Friends and Bullshit

This isn’t going to be the big “first post” marking my return to blogging that I’d intended, but I encountered a situation today that requires some long form writing, and because I would like to have it available for later reference and linking, Facebook just wasn’t going to work as a outlet, though it is, in fact, Facebook related.

There are a number of reasons I unfollow people on my friends list, and it isn’t necessarily the road to unfriending, but quite often, that is the end result. About once a month, I revisit the people I am currently not following on my feed and ask some questions: Have I missed them? Are they still doing whatever it was I didn’t want to see my on Facebook feed? If I miss them, and they are still at it, they stay on the unfollow list for another month. If I haven’t missed them at all, and they are still at it, they get unfriended. Whether or not I have missed them, and they seem to have changed their ways, I refollow them. What doesn’t happen is people sitting on the list of people who I am friends with but whose words and thoughts I don’t want to see. I mean, you’re not really “friends” at that point, now are you? Anyway, it’s a simple system and has served me well for years.

Never in all the years I have been managing my friends list this way has anyone ever messaged me after I have unfriended them. Until today… when someone who I unfollowed months ago, who I actually unfriended way back during the Presidential primaries, messaged me. I guess they just noticed.

“Seriously, you unfriended me…”

So I visit their Facebook page. There at the top, just posted a few hours before was a perfect example of why I decided that no, I didn’t really miss them, and yes, they were never going to be someone whose words and thoughts I would want to see on my Facebook feed. This person’s particular crime? Posting made up bullshit that happens to agree with their views … things which can be proven ridiculous and false with only the barest minimum of research or even just a moment of logical, rational thought. I used to carefully and cautiously point out the bullshitty nature of these things to people who post them, supplying cites and links and factual information, but it never made any difference. They always argued, and it was time consuming and tiring for me … because it can become a nonstop job. There are a lot of people posting bullshitty stuff on Facebook, and my friends list used to be quite large. People posting easily refuted bullshit on Facebook is actually why my friends list management system was born!

But just this once, because I want this post to be an example I can point to in the future when someone I have unfriended wants to know why (or someone wants to know why I unfriend people), I will refute some internet bullshit.

This is the image that was posted…

Before sourcing this image and the individual images used to create it, let’s look at it with a critical eye. I haven’t seen a 2016 county electoral map yet, but I do recognize a couple of counties that I know did not go to the Democrats. The blue areas on this map do seem to align with major population centers though, so let’s mentally note that will be a good place to start sourcing the original image. The bottom map also seems to align with major population centers, and it’s kind of a no brainer that there is more crime where there are more people, but I know I have seen this map before somewhere labeled differently. It’s a weak graphical display, no matter what it’s trying to convey.

What is it this particular set of images and labels is trying to communicate in its current form? I assume it’s that crime is higher where there are liberal voters. But owing to the fact the top map is showing some counties blue that I know are not in fact heavy Democratic/liberal voters, the whole thing is highly suspect isn’t it?

SIDE NOTE: I could create an an image like this one using a map of Christian church density and one of rape incidence. It too would overlap nicely. It would be bullshit to try to show a causation factor between these two things, but if I created and posted such an image, people who want to believe such a thing would willingly and gladly spread it across the internet without even thinking about it. Correlation can be found between many statistics, but CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION.

The search for the original source of this combined image went surprisingly quickly. I typed … electoral map 2016 crime … into Google, and the very first link took me to Reddit. A number of other hits took me there as well. After enduring more Reddit than I normally would, it appears that is where this image was born. Just that source alone makes it highly suspect, but the fact the first few posts on each appearance I found of it on that website are people I would never agree with on any other matters pointing out its bullshitty nature mean … it’s true bullshit. Even bullshit artists seem to think it’s bullshit.

And what do you know, someone had done some of the research for me! Right there on Reddit, I found the link to the top image. It’s not a 2016 county level electoral map. It’s a map displaying the counties where 50% of the United States population resides. So indeed, it’s a map of major population centers not a map of dense areas of liberal voters. Those two things are not actually synonymous.

The bottom image continued to look familiar to me. I do a lot of research on crime, particularly murder. So instead of turning to the internet, I flipped through my own resources and found it. It’s a map showing murder hotspots. Like I said earlier, it’s a weak graphic that really provides no information, and it’s designed mostly to appeal to emotions. It’s original source, which I will not link to, is always suspect, and any information I read upon it I fact check six ways to Sunday before using.

So the bottom line is, all this set of images tells anyone is that crime/murder happens more where people (of any political persuasion) live. Is this news to anyone? Isn’t news to me. Probably not to you either. But these two images put together with some new labels and spread around the internet by people who very much want to believe that liberals and Democrats are murdering murderers? Tells a different tale then, doesn’t it? And it was so easily debunked! All I had to do was type a few words into Google and click a couple links. That’s all I ask anyone to do before posting bullshit on Facebook … take a few minutes to make sure it isn’t made up bullshit you just happen to want to believe.

And if you can’t be bothered to do that, I can’t be bothered to have you on my friends list. I have standards for who I friend on Facebook. I know a lot of people will just friend anyone, but I don’t. The people on my list are there for reasons, just like the people that aren’t on my list aren’t on it for reasons (and sometimes, it’s just that I haven’t gotten to know them yet). Furthermore, do you see how many words I had to write to debunk one stupid image? Why should I have to choose to either do that ten or more times a day on Facebook or to just let people put crappy bullshit in front of my face all day without trying to educate them. It’s really just better we go our separate ways. Saves everyone time and energy and aggravation.

But someone finally commented about their unfriending, and so the above is the explanation. It’s actually just one explanation (and one example). Other reasons one may be unfriended? Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, hate speech of any kind. But that kind of unfriending is immediate. There is no “unfollow and see how I feel about it next month” stage. You’re just gone. Some posting crimes lead to being put on life support with hopes for a full recovery, and some posting crimes are just a friends list death sentence.

3 thoughts on “Friends and Bullshit

  1. I find the really annoying thing is when something like this gets posted in support of something you agree with.

    • Oh yeah, it irritates me just as much when it’s something I’d agree with. Maybe more so, because I expect better from friends I generally agree with.

      So I politely explained to the person who was the reason this post got made why I unfriended her, and her response? “Freedom of speech and ideas … America!” Freedom from facts, more like. Won’t miss her or anyone else I’ve ditched for constantly posting bullshit on their social media. Glad their happy in their ignorance.

      • The problem I have is that when someone says something easily debunked in support of something I agree with, they’re putting me in a position where whatever I do I harm my own platform.

        Either I say nothing and let my platform be associated with easily debunked lies, or I object and raise the profile of this individual lie. Insert muttley-style string of swearwords here.

        I could list Trump-related examples but I’m sure you can think of some yourself. If people had stuck to attacking the things he actually said … I dunno, but maybe it wouldn’t have gone this way?

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