These days, if you want to get an idea of what people are thinking and how they’re feeling on a deep, base, emotional level, you must be willing to descend to the lowest depths — the very septic system — of human social interaction to get the clearest view.
I’m talking about social media, of course, where average citizens, with varying levels of mastery of English, post their comments in response to breaking news.
Depending on where you go, the nature of what you see swings wildly in terms political leaning, but so long as the parent article is politically themed, one thing is consistent no matter which news site you’re visiting: everyone seems pretty darn convinced they’re right.
Never before has the level of hostility been higher. But this week especially, with two scenarios playing out simultaneously between the U.S. and North Korea and the U.S. and Russia, the magnitude of the fear, paranoia, and hatred splashing across pages of Facebook and Twitter has leaped to a whole new level.
Welcome to Humanity’s Intellectual Underbelly
Here is one endearing snippet I copied from an article published yesterday when the second of two flights of Russian strategic bombers probed the edges of U.S. airspace before being escorted away by F-22s:
I hope you’re happy Redneck America. In his first 100 days you’re [sic] president, not mine, has brought the whole world to the edge of world war 3. I am afraid for my children. I am afraid to go outside. He’s turned a country of stability and peace into a pit of despair and misery and now he’s work…
And another from that same article:
Just more evidence that Trump voters should all be rounded up IMMEDIATELY, and removed forever from the demcratic process. We’re closer to Armageddon now than we’ve been at any time since the days of STALIN, and yet the toupee-in-chief keeps telling us that everything is great and the country is bac…
If that weren’t enough, last week, the other apparent thorn in Trump’s side, North Korea, went to one of its favorite saber-rattling techniques by testing an ICBM — a test that ended in failure but got global attention nonetheless.
Trump’s response was to claim that he was sending an “Armada” towards the Korean peninsula as a show of force.
It didn’t take long for the press to get wind of the fact that the carrier Trump was referring to, the Carl Vinson, along with its substantial strike group, wasn’t heading for Korea at all, but towards Australia.
A storm of outrage ensued.
Here’s one from a CNN article:
Just more chaotic and irresponsible behavior, from this trash-talking White House. The lies, propaganda, dissembling, extreme corruption, aggression and muddled, crazy policy emanating from this administration is horrifying. This is the chaos and slight-of-hand of a fascist regime-in-the-making. Unl…
Lies or just plain stupidity… where oh where can the Carl Vinson be… who cares… it only takes one submarine off the coast (in international waters of course) to hose up everything (see the world on fire and then thrust into a nuclear winter)..
But aside from the usual current of anger and frustration, I noticed another pattern start to emerge — something I definitely wasn’t expecting from this particular segment of the population.
Prior to Cheetoman’s election, I spent many months “campaigning” against him amongst my Trumpster friends, family and acquaintances. Now, rather than saying “I told you so”, I’m starting to prepare for what’s coming. Stock up on food and water, folks, because this is just the beginning.
The time of complaining and whining is over now. We’re not going to sit around and wait for this lunatic to throw the world into nuclear war. I hate everyone who voted for that intolerant sexist bigot but some of them might have a point. We’re filling our basement with supplies and are now looking i…
Reading Between the Lines
Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Liberals, prepping?
It blew my mind because if there was one segment of the population that had consistently mocked the practice, this was it. And yet…
Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the people making these posts are in their right minds.
Russian bombers have been buzzing in our airspace on a regular basis since the Cold War.
Sure, there have been times of increased frequency, but all in all, this is nothing more than a public demonstration aimed at provoking the administration and, to a lesser degree, testing our response times.
If they had any intention of actually penetrating our airspace with intent to do harm, they would 1.) do it with a far larger, more widespread, coordinated attack, 2.) given their massive ICBM arsenal, probably not use manned bombers at all, 3.) definitely not use the world’s oldest and most radar-visible bomber, the 60-year-old, prop-driven Tu-95 Bear (pictured below flying alongside a more modern Tu-160 Blackjack, which was first flown by the Soviet air force in the 1980s).
And as far as North Korea goes, in terms of threat, that nation ranks right up there with Guatemala.
Despite its apparent hatred and hostility towards us, North Korea, even on its finest day, doesn’t have the capacity to do anything beyond starting a war with the West.
Even if the country had a nuclear weapon small enough to put on the tip of a missile (the weapons North Korea has tested so far have been the size of a house and only a few kilotons in yield), its missiles are neither reliable nor accurate enough to pose a legitimate threat, nor are its (purely theoretical) warheads powerful enough to do much damage in the one-in-a-million chance they ever reached our soil.
Moreover, we would know of a launch in its earliest stages, and, yes, we would almost definitely have the capacity to intercept the few missiles the country might get into the air in the event of a suicidal “all-out” attack against our Western seaboard.
But to even consider that is to give the scenario too much credit.
As a premise, it’s absurd.
If Kim Jong-un were the ruthless leader the left is trying to make him out to be at the moment, he probably wouldn’t condemn his nation and dynasty to instant ruin just for the sake of a token attack.
But never mind the facts. Assumption is always easier, especially when things appear to be falling into your narrative of choice.
Never Question a Catalyst
This gives rise to the curious phenomenon of liberal prepping.
To me, it feels like the bizarro world’s version of what happened just about eight years ago, when Obama first came into power and the conservatives kicked off the modern prepping craze in the first place.
It was back then that the social trend first became significant enough to get its own reality TV show.
Is it really possible that with the fear pendulum now on the opposite end of its swing, a whole new group of people is starting to feed this market?
The evidence is pretty compelling:
Popular wisdom dictated that interest in this category of goods — and guns especially — was predicted to drop after Trump’s election.
And while across the board shares of gun manufacturers dropped by as much as 18% following November 8th, less than three weeks later, FBI background checks for gun transactions soared to a new record for a single day — 185,713 — during 2016 Black Friday sales.
If all the supposed gun-crazy “Trumpsters” are sitting at home satisfied that all is right with the world, it doesn’t leave too many options as to who is out there doing the buying.
Just like their conservative counterparts, these liberal gun owners have no shortage of online forums, Facebook groups, and even lefty gun clubs, like the LGBT-focused group Pink Pistols, to egg them on.
And that’s really the most exciting part of this whole story.
Never mind the saber rattling and the media’s struggle to make relevant news from it. The true effect of Trump, at least so far, is to turn liberals towards habits and opinions they would have never considered before.
They’ve been angry, but now they’re getting scared, and the historical response to this is the same no matter which side of the political spectrum you subscribe to: guns, supplies, land, and everything else seen as necessary to live through the collapse of society.
With at least three more years to go in this presidency, I see this market, in all of its sub-sectors, becoming one of the biggest beneficiaries.