I took a quick scroll through Facebook yesterday, as one does. My Facebook feed has gotten notably darker these days, what with the encroaching sense of imminent doom, and I’ve adjusted my gauge for what registers as “shocking” accordingly. One post, however, managed to make me take pause. It was a screenshot of a CNN talk show, with a caption at the bottom reading, “Alt-Right Founder Questions If Jews are People.” The context: CNN Host Jim Sciutto was discussing whether or not Trump should disavow the increasingly visible anti-Semitism and racism among his followers on the “alt-right.”
What really got interesting is what happened when I shared the post. Over the course of two hours, I got a pretty representative sample of the various species of responses I’ve been seeing to other Facebook posts about our national downward spiral. Here’s a run-down:
1. The This-Can’t-Be
This sort of reaction is like the denial step in the five stages of grief. The commenter simply can’t or won’t believe the post is real. Surely, this is Photoshopped. Have you checked Snopes?
Pro: It’s good to be skeptical, and good to retain hope that the world is, in fact, not bleak enough for CNN to be actually posing a “both sides” argument about whether or not Trump should disavow neo-Nazis.
Con: The world is, in fact, getting that bleak.
2. The Gallows Humorist
I certainly tend toward this one quite a bit. This sort of reaction looks at something that’s objectively very troubling and goes, you know what? I’d rather laugh. My favorite reaction to my own “Are Jews People?” post read, “Tag yourself. Personally, I am a chair.”
Pro: Alleviates stress; provides respite.
Con: Why are we laughing? CNN is legitimately arguing about whether or not neo-Nazis are “that bad” for saying Jews might not be people.
3. The Reasoner
We all have someone — or multiple someones — on our Facebook who will chime in with an explanation about why, in fact, this is really nothing to worry about. After all, they were only discussing the words of a white supremacist, not endorsing them.
Pro: Rational thought is good for the mind and the soul.
Con: Condescendingly denies that the fact that this is getting airtime at all/that this is the timeline we are living in is terrifying.
4. The Mourner/Rager
This post is something to the effect of “Aaaaaagghhh” and/or another sort of utterance of despair and/or rage. Also expressed in the “anger” emoji in lieu of a “like.”
Pro: Visceral connection to how scary and sad the world is at the moment.
Con: Sometimes lacks substance beyond the shared primal scream we are all participating in internally.
5. The Out-of-Depth Trump Supporter
This post comes from the depths of your Facebook friend list — maybe someone you knew in high school, or met once at a party. Maybe a relative. Who knows. But they’ve decided to get on your post and write some sort of truly irrelevant screed like, “When did CROOKED HILLARY denounce the Alt-right?!” (she has), or “This is beside the point, the Alt-right is a fringe group, why should he pay attention?” (Five words: Bannon. In. The. White. House.)
Pro:…you got me there. Maybe the new cell phone you get after you throw yours across the room?
Con: Derails post; incites existential disappointment in humanity.
Lana Adler is a Forward Fellow working on opinion. Follow her on Twitter @Lana_Macondo