Unfollow Trump

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Poor Donald Trump. Being President was supposed to be all about power, money and perks, and getting his name in history for something other than being a reality TV host and saying a bunch of gross things to a radio shock jock whose other career stand out is the 1992 release of his film Butt Bongo Fiesta. And for a while it went okay. He cut taxes, the economy was doing well, and he got to bask in the adoration of fans who will backflip, twist and spin reality at a pace that would make Simone Biles dizzy in order to convince themselves of their hero’s infallibility.

 

But right now it’s not fun anymore. There’s a global pandemic on, and it’s hitting the US hard, and despite banning arrivals from Chi-nuh and what else do you people expect him to do? He keeps getting criticised. So many nasty questions. And worst of all, he’s bored. Why won’t this just go away so he can get back to golf and not being a husband and father?

But hey, his ratings are great.

 

And isn’t that what makes Trump’s Covid-19 response a success? He’s getting great ratings. People are watching the press briefings, even if he’s taken off in a sulk for getting nasty questions. Trump doesn’t understand that people are laughing at him, not with him. He sees everything in terms of numbers: profits, ratings, crowd sizes; and if he doesn’t get the numbers he wants, he’ll make them up.

 

Trump dismisses all criticism of himself and his presidential administration as fake news. Americans, and the rest of the world which pays attention to America (which is most of the rest of the world) have been appalled by Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. From dismissing it as a little problem that will soon go away, to forcing states to compete with each other for resources, to not knowing the difference between a virus and a bacteria, to praising armed protests against the lockdown, and suggesting bleach injections as a cure for the disease. And people, unable to march in the streets, have voiced their outrage on social media, comedians have lampooned him, journalists of character have eviscerated the administration, governors have argued with him, world leaders have taken him to task. It doesn’t matter. Trump isn’t listening. And the despair and death toll grows. What can we do?

 

Well, there’s one thing ordinary people can do that will really get his attention. One thing that he won’t be able to brush off. One thing that will actually pierce and possibly even deflate his massive ego that looms like a blimp of a massive angry toddler.

 

And it won’t even take you a few seconds. Just log onto your Twitter account, and unfollow Trump.

 

Trump has 79.7 million followers on Twitter. It would never cross his mind that they aren’t all there in support of his great and good glory. The one way everyday people, scared and sad and angry and frustrated, can get his attention is to hit him where it will really hurt: his follower numbers. If everyone who doesn’t support Trump but follows him anyway were to click that unfollow button, his numbers would plunge and he’d take notice. He might lash out like an angry child, claiming Twitter was censoring him and kicking actual followers off, or that the accounts that unfollowed were all fake anyway, but he wouldn’t be able to deny it. A few days of watching his numbers fall would get Trump’s attention in a way that protests, monologues on late night comedy shows and think pieces in the Washington Post never could. The man’s ego is predicated on his follower numbers. He sees his 79.7 million Twitter followers and tweets away, confident he is basking in the glowing admiration of 79.7 million ardent fans.

 

If you don’t support Trump, why follow him on Twitter? My Twitter feed is blissfully MAGA free, yet at least 100 of the 500+ Twitter accounts I follow are also following Trump. Of course, he’s the leader of the free world, and we need to know what he’s up to however much we hate him. But you’ll find out anyway. Of course, if you’re a journalist you need to be across breaking news – and Trump’s reality warping tweets frequently qualify as news – as it happens. But if you’re not in that category, rest assured that if Trump says something stupid – and he will – you’ll find out soon enough. It will be retweeted and quote tweeted and mentioned in news articles. There's even Twitter accounts that automatically retweet all Trump's tweets, like @RealPressSecBot.


Anyway, if you do unfollow him, what will you be missing out on really? Him flogging books he can't read, insulting women who don't agree with him, peddling conspiracy theories like "Obamagate" based off a 2018 press release from the office of a Republican Senator?



And making every candidate he supports sound like the exact same person, as if they were churned out of some huge MAGA factory? (I guess that's one thing he would have done to get America manufacturing again)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

And thank goodness Trump supports candidates who love the military and veterans, because he seems to rather dislike them himself (his record of unethical behaviour toward the armed forces is astonishing even to seasoned Trump watchers). 

We're all scared of what's to come at the moment, of the unsure and potentially disastrous results of opening up countries and economies too soon (and Scott Morrison seems to be taking a terrifying tip from Trump on this). But we know Trump won't listen, not to journalists, not to signatories of open letters, no one. But millions of people unfollowing him on Twitter might be the one thing he pays attention to. I'm not saying it will work - if it happened, Trump would find some way to dismiss it, unless the fall in numbers became too big for him to ignore. But if there's a tiny chance it will make him sit up, put down the Double Quarter Pounder and pay attention, it's worth a try. And hey, it would at least hurt his feelings, and that's something we could take some enjoyment of at this horrid time.


 

We all know what we need to do. Stay home. Save lives. Unfollow Trump.

Birth and Death

Tuesday, 14 April 2020
My mother worried about me as a teenager. She worried a lot. And one of the things she worried about was my choice in reading materials. With few entertainment options in our little town in regional NSW, the library was my life. I spent a lot of time there avoiding home, reading 3 month old copies of The Face and wishing I lived in Manchester (Cool Britannia! Britpop! Manbreak Ocean Colour Scene Manic Street Preachers Pulp The Bluetones heck Tony Blair before he turned evil who would want to live in an Australia falling under the grip of John Howard?).

But I also discovered the 340 subdivision of the Dewey Decimal System. Specifically, I discovered true crime. Before the Internet and streaming, people still dug true crime, mostly in the form of pulp magazines and mass market paperbacks detailing grisly things that had happened to murdered people, most of whom seemed to be young, beautiful white women. I couldn't get my hands on the magazines, but I devoured the books, bringing home stacks of them, which were inevitably discovered and led to parental grilling. My mother in particular was convinced that my avid reading of true crime books was a sure sign that I was fantasising about murdering someone myself, that I would grow up to become a serial killer (actually, in those days I would fantasise about becoming a victim, but there's a can of worms I'm in no mood to have to clean up if it spills open everywhere). 

Anyway, she really needn't have worried. The passage of twenty years would prove that my interest is pretty much normal; mass adoption of the internet saw a huge rise in crime blogs and crime forums, and the advent of streaming settled the debate. (There's also the fact that I'm still yet to murder anyone). But look at the top shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Stan; true crime is everywhere. People want mysteries. People want to know about serial killers. People listened to Serial and want to hear from Ted Bundy's long term partner and binge watch Forensic Files and So I Married A Murderer. Sure, there's a few unhealthy obsessives, like the creeps who hang out on Tumblr detailing their sexual fantasies about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, girls who weren't even born until after Columbine. But as South Park devoted an episode to showing, there's a whole bunch of "normal people" living their normal lives who like to spend their spare time hearing about gruesome things that have happened to other normal people. People just like them. 

This obsession goes beyond crime to a fascination with death itself. Having read a glut of crime books, my own interest now runs more to death in and of itself, not so much the people who dramatically speed the process up. Again, I'm not alone; there's the popularity of books such as Stiff, by Mary Roach, outlining the many and sometimes bizarre things that can happen to dead bodies; and Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, examining the tough life and death decisions brought on by advances in life span and medical technology.

And of course there's the internet, again, with YouTube series such as Ask a Mortician, run by LA Mortician Caitlin Doughty (I'm a big fan, obviously). Her videos cover everything from the rights of trans people after death to what happened to the bodies that went down with the Titanic.


Ask a Mortician has over one million subscribers and something like 90 million views; clearly not all of these people are gloomy teenagers or aspiring spree killers. People - ordinary, well balanced, emotionally healthy people - are just really into death.

I'm one of them. Emotionally healthy - well. But I have a good job, I have close friends who in normal times I see regularly, I've never been arrested. Death is just been something I've always had an interest in. I like visiting graveyards, an interest I inherited from my father; it was a sobering moment as a 13 year old to visit the ancient cemeteries in Ireland and see the dozens of mossy, uncarved, unadorned stones marking the graves of victims of the Great Famine who couldn't afford tombstones. On road trips with friends, I'd always want to stop in at local cemeteries, and the absence of protesting cries of "ugh, why?" told me I wasn't the only one who didn't mind having a look. And when I went to Los Angeles last year, although I missed Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the homes of the stars, you best believe I went on the Tragical History Tour and visited Hollywood Forever:









And I've taken forensics classes at university and looked into a career in forensic anthropology (the training isn't available in Australia, so I settled on working with the living) and even served as the Australian director for the Doe Network for a few years (and we desperately need a publicly accessible database of unidentified decedents in Australia, along the lines of NAMUS), so whilst I guess my interest has gone on much longer and deeper than many other people, I'm just one of the millions whom Caitlin Doughty of Ask a Mortician calls death enthusiasts.

 But something I've been wondering about is, why are so many people obsessed with death, but very few people into birth? Of course expectant parents are going to be browsing birth forums, reading books and blogs and watching videos. But imagine someone who didn't have or want kids, someone who had kids years ago or wasn't wanting them for years, reading birth stories and touring maternity wards. That would be creepy and weird (not even getting into the whole thing of fetishising pregnant people, which I'm not going to do today and probably not ever).

And yet birth is usually seen as a wonderful thing, the start of a new life, of hopes and dreams. Death is sad, tragic, inevitable for those who reach a great age first, shockingly painful for those who die young. One major life milestone good, one bad, but the good one just doesn't attract the interest of the bad, tragic life event. Is it because we've all been through birth already, ho hum, whereas none of us have died, and none of us can really say for sure what happens?

The religious can take some comfort in what their faith says will happen when they die, but the existence of other religions is a tell that none of them is certain, and as a semi agnostic progressive Christian (as much as the term "Christian" has been hijacked by some pretty awful people in the last few decades), I oscillate between thinking I'll get to be with Jesus per Revelations 3, and surety that it's just...nothing. Like going to sleep with no dreams. Blank, finito, that's it. (The thing that really worries me right now is that with restrictions in place due to Coronavirus, if I die now I won't get to have the big fancy funeral I've dreamed of since I was a little girl. The beautiful, the music, the readings, the epitaph chosen from Nick Drake lyrics, the pallbearers - although I'm kinda heavy and a trolley would probably be a better option. I've given way, way more thought to my funeral than I ever did to my kinda last minute wedding, where my preparations largely consisted of "yeah, that'll do").

What we do know is death is going to happen to everyone, yet none of us really knows about it. No wonder we're interested. And it's an alright interest to have. I'm sure the dead don't mind, after all.

Free dark words collage sheet

Saturday, 15 February 2020
Like me, love journaling but are absolutely sick of the relentless "live your best life" toxic positivity of all the journaling ephemera out there? My journals are where I vent my real self, not curate a fake life of friendship! coffee! happiness! for Instagram. Here's a quick collage sheet I threw together of some more realistic ephemera for the journals of a lot of us. Print, share, whatever I'm not your mom who probably doesn't care what you do that much anyway except that everything you do is wrong.


Pauline Hanson Weaponises Her Wilful Ignorance. Why Can’t We Call It Out?

Saturday, 18 January 2020
This post was originally published on New Matilda. Reproduced with permission.


Pauline Hanson has learnt nothing. With the recent bushfire crisis and the outpouring of evidence, from the Rural Fire Service to bushfire experts from around Australia, stating that the fires were largely not caused by arsonists or lack of fuel reduction burns, but were exacerbated by climate change, Hanson has used her media platform to repeat the false information spreading on social media via another of her regular spots on Seven Sunrise.

If the government doesn’t provide leadership, then what’s the point of having a government?

Sunday, 12 January 2020
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already shown a tin ear when it comes to the devastating fires affecting Australia this bushfire season. As we moved from spring to the height of the summer bushfire season – and with bushfires already having devastated large parts of northern New South Wales, destroying hundreds of homes, and smoke choking cities along the east coast – he went on holidays to Hawaii, compounding his ignorance of the requirements of high office by having his staff spend several days lying about his being on holiday and seeming to blame his kids for his absence at a time of national crisis; that the trip was in order to keep a promise he made to his children.

But just as it was becoming painfully apparent that Morrison just doesn’t get it when it came to the need for strong leadership in the face of the unprecedented bushfire disaster, he started to get it less.

MEGA LINKS POST - the truth about the Greens, bushfires and backburnings

Saturday, 4 January 2020
As the horror summer of bushfires continues in Australia, we keep seeing the zombie rumours that the scale of the fires are the fault of the Greens preventing back burning operations, allowing for the build up of fuel in fire prone areas. This post is a collection of reliable and verifiable sources with the as much info as I can find, showing the truth about the Greens fire policies, back burning, climate change, arson, the role of the Morrison government, and a whole lot of other misinformation about the fires.

Ladies, let men tell you how to Make Women Great Again

Wednesday, 1 January 2020
Ah, new year, new you. It's time to make New Year's Resolutions to become a fitter, happier, more productive self. No really, this year you're going to walk 10,000 steps a day, hit the gym three times a week, cut out simple carbohydrates and limit yourself to clear spirits on religious holidays. It's going to be great. You're going to be great.

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