On Taking a Look in the Mirror

It’s easy to lose sight of who we are.

We lead busy lives, even in these pandemic times. It’s easy to move from Zoom call to Zoom happy hour, from masked up shift at work to masked up grocery store run, from socially distanced soccer practice to Bridgerton binge on the sofa, all without really thinking about who we are.

It’s easy, in this swirl, to not think about what the accumulation of our words and actions adds up to. It’s easy to observe a mild annoyance, to comment on a slight inconvenience, to question a minor oversight… until the next thing you know you’ve become part of a local Facebook group that imagines a vast and insidious civic conspiracy wherein every single local event is a deliberate attempt to ruin your life.

This group claims to have 2,200 members united in displeasure with the city. The reality is that the group has several dozen members united in displeasure alongside a 2,100 person audience being entertained by their abject nutbaggery. I know this is the case because I receive daily screenshots (fine fine, ok, I send them too) from about 800 members of that audience.

I’m not concerned about those in the audience—there is, after all, only one season of Bridgerton so far—but the rest of you in that group should really take a look in the mirror.

You should take a look in the mirror if you joined this group because of your belief in transparency and open debate. The group is a tinpot dictatorship in which comments and posts that don’t share the narrow worldview of the moderators are routinely deleted and removed, and the offending poster evicted from the membership. This authoritarian intolerance for diverse and divergent viewpoint—not to mention an outright manipulation of the discourse in the group (“IT’S CANCEL CULTURE!!” comes the ironic scream from the cover of the CPAC brochure most of these people probably have laying on their kitchen counter)—is pretty hypocritical for a group allegedly concerned with integrity.

You should take a look in the mirror if you are the moderator of such a group and ask, when did my life get so small? When did my life get reduced to taking a picture of my car idling at a stoplight and posting it on the internet for a dozen old grumps to make surprise face emojis at. I think it’s great that you smear on eye black and slip into a tactical vest as you stand your post as a proud keyboard warrior, but for the sake of good taste and respect for the English language maybe write your 3,000 words of rearguard action in a lost culture war on a word doc on your desktop and just leave it there? Or a notebook even. I hear nice things about journaling.

You should take a look in the mirror if you are a self-styled civic leader and aspiring public servant and all (let that word roll around in your mouth for a moment, aaaaalllll) you do is shitpost in a private forum and write I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK WITH THE MANAGER style op-eds in the local tabloid. Real leaders are selfless – so you might want to rethink things if your animating instinct is born of the selfish grievance that your tax dollars might accidentally let a 25-year-old teacher live in this city without having to sell a kidney. And if your only ideas are to cut taxes and eliminate regulations, it’s possible you’re in the wrong primary. I mean seriously, it’s like a pair of pleated dockers was granted its wish to become a real boy.

You should take a look in the mirror if you think of yourself as a liberal or a progressive but you spend time complaining in this forum. You cannot be either of those things while also screaming about new housing in your neighborhood. You cannot be either of those things if you’re upset that an investment in the common welfare leaves you occasionally inconvenienced. Many of these posts seem likely composed on laptops propped up by bought but never read copies of White Fragility and The New Jim Crow (the rest, I assume, on laptops propped upon dog-eared copies of Atlas Shrugged).

So take a look in the mirror Alexandria. If you find that anything written here is looking back at you, maybe log off for a little while. Take a walk. Enjoy one of our city’s lovely green spaces. Because when you unplug from the imaginary hellscape that lives inside your computer screen, you might find that you actually like it here.

It’s a pretty great city. I can’t wait for you to actually see it.

– P.C. Publius

February 25, 2021

3 thoughts on “On Taking a Look in the Mirror

  1. Kinda disappointed that enough details were placed here to pinpoint only one of the self radicalizing echo chamber groups, which see conspiracies in every outcome that they don’t like. A wider mirror may have been helpful.


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