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Hammer: Information Overload

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Man. I'm suffering from information overload. After spending a week following the exciting news from the Occupy protests around the world and then reading the reader comments on various news sites, I'm ready to go back to only reading about celebrities and sports.

If you ever want to make yourself so depressed about the intelligence level of conservative Americans, spend a few days reading comments on Yahoo News and any news story linked to Matt Drudge's website. You'll find yourself wishing for a massive federal program to increase both digital and English literacy among the folks who post there—as well as a massive crash course on history.

Not only do many of the teabaggers seem intent on calling the Occupy protesters communists, as if Ike was still living in the White House and the Cold War was in full swing. The level of disjointed logic and full-blown racism astonishes me.

I try my best, as a warrior for freedom, to push back against these un-American sentiments, but it's a losing game. The arguments start out with at least some degree of logic and then, three or four posts later, someone calls Barack or Michelle Obama a gorilla and any possibility of debate is lost.

I've never met an actual Communist in my life, but after being called one 20 times in one week, I'm beginning to wonder if I somehow am one. Surely, 50 semi-literate teabaggers can't be wrong, can they?

After an article on Drudge reported on the death of a man near an Occupy protest in San Diego, the hate squad on the Internet went wild. Cheering the man's death wasn't simply enough; they then went on to suggest that all liberals set themselves on fire in the style of Buddhist monks in 1960s Vietnam.

By then I had had enough. I told them they'd better watch out, that liberals had gotten more effective at the use of fire. Hadn't they ever heard of Waco? The shitstorm that followed that comment was enough to get me banned from the NBC San Diego website, but it was worth it.

Here's the ironic thing about the Rush Limbaugh/Fox News conservatives. According to a media survey last year, the median age of Fox News viewers was 65. For Limbaugh listeners, it was 67. So most of these angry, hate-filled comments being made on the Internet are done by folks living off of Social Security.

So when these same folks call the president the N-word, it's on a computer and Internet connection paid for out of the 4.2 percent of my income that goes to Social Security. Why am I subsidizing them? My wife and myself each work more than 40 hours a week and don't have the luxury of being able to watch hours of corporate-financed conservative propaganda. We're too busy working.

There's no winning when it comes to debating conservatives on the Internet because facts, logic and reason rarely come into play. Every debate turns into, as Sean Penn said last week, "Let's get the N-word out of the White House."

I've thrived on political debate for almost all of my life. Stuff such as "The Panama Canal Treaties were bad because they ceded American control over to a dictatorship" versus "This is a long-overdue recognition of political reality."

Now there is no need to explain one's points in any kind of cogent manner. Call one side a Nazi and the other side blessed by Jesus and be done with it. The dark side of social media is that it allows hatred, lies the same moral equivalency and ease of travel as it does informed discourse.

After engaging in hours of this sort of debate, I'm done with it for now. Going forward, my only Facebook friends will be either actual, real-life friends and co-workers, fellow writers, photographers (photography is a hobby of mine) and models (ditto).

As for the tough economic, social and political issues of the day, I need to take a break, even a brief one, from them. It's not even 2008 yet and the Republican candidates are trying to out-dumb themselves to death and the president can't even get an emergency jobs bill passed despite the fact that millions are without work.

And I'd love to take part in the Occupy protests but I'll get written up for being two minutes late from work and my union is powerless to help me. I'm rooting for them and I hope there can be a peaceful settlement that allows the powerful 1 percent to give up a few more crumbs from their tables to the remaining 99 percent. I'm not betting on it, though.

The fight for justice around the world will continue and the struggles of the working poor against the select few winners of world capitalism will continue. I just need to take a breather and read up on what Bob Dylan and Scarlett Johansson have been up to. Just for a few days, at least.

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