Auntie Grizelda’s Bandwagon

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  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I think we have the same aunt…Report

  2. Avatar atomickristin says:

    So, just to let you guys know, I wrote this.

    I didn’t want it searchable under my name because this is a real person who I do care about and who does know I write here sometimes. The editors were kind enough to publish it anonymously for that reason.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I was so worried that this would be a story about an elderly aunt’s mindless support of Trump when I started reading it and I’m *SO* relieved that it was, instead, about her political awakening and her finding her political voice!Report

  4. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    The election of 2016 was decided by Uncle Griswold, doing much the same thing. As I’ve said before, when a political strategy is successful, it will be imitated.

    I have one friend on social media – a programmer. The links about programming and science he shares are really good and interesting and he’s down to earth. But the links he shares about Democrats and Democratic policies are insane. They come from sites I’ve never heard of, and involve only half-truths and distortions in the best of times. Otherwise they are outright lies. The strangest part of it is that he doesn’t like Trump very much. But somehow, Democrats are always worse.

    And yeah, I see other people sharing stuff that is very hyped but favoring Democrats. It gets people excited, and they reshare it.

    This is a national disease, and plenty of people are salivating at the prospect of getting their pitch shared from one friend to another on social media, namely Facebook. Because it makes it seem so authoritative.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      Yep totally a national disease. It’s interesting to me that as maligned as ‘tribalism’ is, in many ways it almost seems more desirable than this kind of weird bandwagoning even otherwise very smart people seem susceptible to.

      I personally saw this disease prior to the election of 2016 though. Facebook is a cesspool and has been for quite some time. I’m not sure who’s imitating who or if it was a simultaneous discovery stemming from the use and abuse of social media.

      Thanks so much for commenting.Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    My mother was turning in to a rightward-leaning version of Auntie Grizelda before she passed away a few years ago. Turns out watching a lot of FOX News will do to a mind something similar to what Grizelda’s Facebook memes have done; not being much of a Facebooker myself I don’t know how active my mom was with her account. I had no idea what to do about it or even if I should try. After all, she was an adult, and her mind was sharp, so she was making her own decisions — she was just getting nudged in those decisions frequently.

    My father, gratefully, is also right-leaning but retains a reasonable amount of skepticism — he does actively distinguish between news reporting and commentary, and periodically grows tired of the heapin’ servings of hot steaming Right Wing Outrage served up by the conservative media to seek out contrasting opinions and consider them for himself. He still mostly comes down to the right, but resists the demonization component and will once in a while offer a bit of pushback to his even-more-right-of-center-than-him friends when they start pushing the envelope. Perhaps this is (partly) because he Facebooks less than my mom did or Aunt Grizelda does. Fewer nudges.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      While I came about this post totally organically (far more interested in the bandwagoning aspect than any “representin'”, it was just that the only example intimately available to me, was Auntie G)
      the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon came into play and I started seeing TONS of “Uncle Grizwold watches Fox News and it’s rotted his brain” articles. So just want to be clear that I am not in any way saying this is a one sided occurrence, not at all…but I am somewhat pleased to have approached it from the opposite angle because I hadn’t read any articles doing that before (Now watch, I’ll see 700 of them. Baader-Meinhof, do your stuff!)

      But yeah. Totally a two sided thing. This is like a race of chickens involving bandwagons.

      Something I did not explore but have wondered about is our beloved elderly relatives and their possible mental changes happening that possibly predispose them to this kind of thinking. In my (unfortunately extensive) experience, the mental changes of dementia mostly just make people act exactly the way they always did, only more annoying. I’ve wondered if this could be a sign her mind is not what it was.

      I do see plenty of younger people leaping onto bandwagons though so who knows.Report

      • Avatar atomickristin says:

        hmm I think I meant to write “chicken race” there. my brain has to translate things from my native Klingon so sometimes I get my…how do you say, crossing of the wires??Report

  6. Avatar atomickristin says:

    From the files of “you can’t make this sh– up”:

    Word for word FB Auntie Grizelda FB post (attached to a Snopes article about caravan members burning the American flag) hot off the presses:

    To those who have been posting these photos, perhaps you should have fact checked before posting. We need truthful statements, NOT MISCAPTIONED ones.

    Seriously, she posts non-fact-checked articles 50 times a day. For realz. I have Snopes on speed dial FOR HER. I should be paid a full time salary as a fact checker for her FB feed alone.

    I don’t think I’m gonna live through this election day with my sanity intact. And Thanksgiving is coming…Report

    • The worst part of this election is starting tomorrow, regardless of how it turns out, we are full bore onto the 2020 election with no respite.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:


        I need a breather.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Tomorrow? Online betting for the Democratic nomination has Kamala Harris leading, then Biden, Sanders, and Warren in various orders. Oft-mentioned Kirsten Gillibrand is several places farther down the list. I started getting “sign this or that Kamala Harris petition” e-mail last week that are clearly the beginning of sounding out policy positions that small donors might like.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          Leading the primary race so early right out of the starting gate may not be so great for Harris. It wasn’t good for Rudy! Giuliani in 2008, for instance, nor for Hillary Clinton in 2008, nor for Jeb! Bush in 2016.

          Hillary Clinton was leading right out of the starting gate and did eventually get the nomination in 2016, but it was a long, toxic grind against Bernie Sanders that left fissures that still have yet to heal. And, of course, she didn’t win; we can chalk that up to a lot of thing but what it cost her within the party to keep the lead was an ingredient in that complex, bitter cocktail.Report

          • Avatar north says:

            I’d quibble, Burt, and say it goes the other way around and that Hillary’s candidacy was, in essence, her cashing in the IOU’s the party and Obama wrote to her in 2008, 2012 and over the course of that entire span of time.

            That aside I don’t think Harris is a good parallel. She sure isn’t going to run unopposed this year and she’ll have more than crazy Uncle Bernie to contend with if she wants the Democratic nod.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            Through my own peculiar set of biases, I interpret it as the rest of the country telling the Democratic national party, “Please, don’t send us another NE urban corridor candidate.” (I include Sanders in that category because that’s how the rest of the country sees Vermont.) After Harris, it’s a long ways down the list to another Dem who’s not NE urban corridor.Report

      • Avatar atomickristin says:

        You are right.

        Also, I hate you.Report

  7. fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

    I think the “bandwagoning” philosophy is very close to the old saying “there’s no zealot like a convert.”

    I know people who just regularly send Snopes links to relatives about every bit of misinformation they get and share.

    I liken it to how medical reporting is done in this country – one week coffee will kill you, the next it will save you from several chronic diseases. The actual truth is probably somewhere in the middle, or is “none of the above.”

    I will note I also dislike the theme of “start a fight at the Thanksgiving table if one of your relatives disagrees with you politically.” Really? ‘Cos that’s a way to get the less-politicially-invested ones, or the ones who really just are there for the mashed potatoes, to decide to stay home.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      Ah, well put. Agree with you on every point.

      I don’t wanna be the Snopesy person. I wish everyone would stop making me be the Snopeser!Report

  8. Avatar Pinky says:

    Any time we talk about democracy, I always think of the scene from Soylent Green. “Democracy is made of people! It’s people! We need to stop them!”Report

  9. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I do not like or even quite get meme culture. I find that it leads to cult like behavior and unthinking even when I kind of agree with the meme’s message. During the time of the Kavanaugh hearings, there was a meme shared of Dr. Ford’s head with something like a halo around her and a bunch of hands raise bellow her with the words “I believe her” between Ford’s head and the hands. I’m generally sure that the accusations against Kavanaugh were accurate but creating some sort of veneration cult around Dr. Ford was a bit much even if it was temporary. There seems to be something infantilizing about meme culture.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      I read this article about “deepities” the other day. Things that feel true, even profound on some kind of a knee jerk level, but then are actually very trivial or outright false when you stop to think about them (not doing this justice, but it was very interesting.) While I enjoy some of the funnier stuff, political meme culture is like what you’d get if you based a philosophy on deepities.Report

    • fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

      I liked meme culture better when it was just cats asking for cheeseburgers.

      But it went way too fast from “this is dumb and funny” to “this is dumb but we’re going to use it to score political points because we, the meme-makers, think we’re smarter than everyone else, and that we can convince people of stuff by a 100% appeal-to-emotion”

      I also agree the accusations were more likely than not correct (having grown up in a similar milieu to the ones the players in the Kavanaugh/Ford case came from), but I also really hated where the whole thing went, and the other places its momentum seems to be taking it. You’re right about the infantilization.Report

  10. Change the specific views a bit, make George Soros the archdevil, and you’re describing Uncle Donnie. That scares me a lot more than uninformed voters do.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      So you’re ok with mobs of ignorant people voting as long as they agree with you? Got it.

      You see the problem with that approach, I’m sure. Whatever’s attracted Auntie G to the coalition in this particular election won’t hold, some other demagogue will happen along and say slightly different magic words than Trump did. That demagogue very well may attract both Auntie G and Unkie D because they have no underlying philosophy or set of ethical values to serve as a compass for them. And that demagogue may actually be even worse than Trump (yes, it’s entirely possible.)

      Relying on mobs on your side, is like having a piranha butler, they only serve you till they decide they’d rather chew your face off. (ps that’s totally a deepity)Report

  11. Also, if Auntie Grizelda lives in a Democratic district in a Republican state, she probably won’t be up to waiting four hours in line to vote.Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      No, she lives in a Republican district in a Democrat state so the good news is even if she doesn’t get to the polls, her candidate for Senate will still automatically win.Report

  12. Avatar North says:

    I remain, oddly, somewhat sanguine about the whole affair. That isn’t to say I disagree with your characterizations; in fact I don’t think I have any quibble with them at all. It’s just that I don’t think the conclusions one can draw from this phenomenon are particularly alarming. Yes, the internet has allowed mindless memes to proliferate visibly in a manner that outsiders can see whereas prior to the internet the memes were more localized and were mostly invisible to people outside of those localities. Yes, I think a lot of people (potentially the majority of people) vote based on habit, knee jerk assumptions or fact free facts. That certainly doesn’t say much good about the electorate but I still find myself generally unruffled. Why? It seems to me that, still, the stakes remain rather low.

    A person who is swayed by these memes isn’t going to have the gumption or follow through to do much beyond maybe vote or wave the flag online about pretty much any issue. The Auntie Grizeldas aren’t going to form a mob and torch the local constabulary; they probably can’t be bothered to even look up where it is.

    I grant that the Antifa imbeciles and the Proud Boy type loons they feed (and vice versa) exist but in pretty starkly small numbers in the grand scheme of things. They aren’t even present in numbers that compare to the ‘Nam era for violence. The Weathermen actually sent out bombs that exploded back then and the KKK certainly didn’t forget their matches and ropes. I wasn’t alive during that era myself but looking and reading back on it I cannot escape the the nagging impression that a lot of the sturm und drang on the internet that we see is more one cohort trying to recapture that vibe they remember from their youth and another much younger cohort trying to imitate the energy they have heard existed in an earlier era. Again this doesn’t strike me as something that can escape the internet to frolic in the streets as a real life bout of old fashioned civil disorder, you don’t get a mob that’s all moving with walkers and electric wheelchairs nor will youngsters take up the torches if they’re worried more about how it’ll impact their transcripts or employment the day after.

    Personally I don’t expect violence outside of the raging ID’s on display from the execrable twitteratti. I don’t think War or Divorce is likely. Probably just gridlock and attrition until one side fizzles out as time marches relentlessly on and the disasters and dooms they forecast stubbornly refuse to manifest. I’m not sure if that makes me a cynic or a Pollyanna; can one be both?Report

    • Avatar atomickristin says:

      I think you can be both cynic and Pollyanna, I’ve kind of made a science of it myself.

      Great insights, thank you so much.Report

  13. Avatar greginak says:

    So tonight is a big night of MAC football on ESPN 2. Kent State vs. Buffalo. Kent is a feisty 2-7 team while Buffalo is…..well it’s in Buffalo. Should be barn burner.Report