Facebook, and social media in general, are exactly what we each choose to make of it. We can use it to share important moments in our lives, trivial moments in our lives, share silly videos of kittens and puppies, and of course pontificate about current events, among countless other purposes. We can make it as drama-filled or as chill as we decide. Despite lamentations when people become fed up with other people’s (usually political) posts, it’s neither good nor bad, but like all things it’s best in moderation and prudence.
Today I learned that a friend I went to college with passed away earlier this week, and I learned it because of Facebook. Without FB, it’s likely I may never have known, since I hadn’t seen him since I graduated college fourteen years ago, not unless I randomly ran into a common acquaintance somewhere down the line. So yes, Facebook is important that way.
This week I also apparently lost a friend because they took exception to my blog post about unfollowing friends whose political posts I had begun to find predictable and/or obnoxious. Insinuated I was being a hypocrite because I wouldn’t read their posts, but by staying FB friends I expected them to read mine, then subsequently unfriended me. That was a bummer, because we had been close once upon a time, even though we hadn’t spoke in over a year, and my blog had nothing to do with that person, specifically. It really bothered me, as have a couple of other people recently who’ve cut ties with me. I’m not talking about just losing touch; I mean they basically burned bridges, and I really don’t understand why. One person earlier this spring essentially stated I was using them in their final communique. “No offense, but I prefer friendships where the effort is mutual”, or something like that. Well, that’s pretty fucking offensive if you ask me, especially when you’re completely wrong. I consider myself to be capable of honest reflection and if somebody criticizes me and my character, I take it to heart…but for the life of me I still believe they’re both wrong in their characterization of me and to have done what they did. But what are you going to do?
I know this isn’t a bubbly post, but I needed to vent some frustrations publicly. Like I said, FB is what you make of it.
Over the past few years I’ve unfollowed (but not unfriended) many FB friends whose posts have become tiredly predictable, if not occasionally outright offensive. And yes, they are typically Tea Party/Trump supporters. I’m not even sure most of them are aware I’ve unfollowed them, or whether they’d even care if they knew. The thing is that I know most of them personally, and I genuinely like them and respect them; they are smart, bright, and they are in fact good people. These are not loonies or racists. They are sincere in their beliefs. Hopefully they realize that I am sincere in mine.
But, man, some of the things they post, share, or like are just downright disheartening when they’re not outright ridiculous. I don’t say this to be condescending or holier than thou; it’s just how I feel. But I’ve come to realize that it’s better to avoid being tempted to engage them in the first place, because that will only lead to bitterness, so that’s why I’ve unfollowed them. (And not, as I’m sure some of them would claim, because I “can’t handle the truth”…as they see it.)
I’ve stumbled upon several posts and memes that they’ve shared since Orlando, and I’ve read the comments of their likeminded companions…and I genuinely despair over how wide the gulf has become between the two sides in this country, and it’s only growing wider. It’s like this whole other country that I’m having trouble even relating to anymore. Some of the things that are espoused and accepted as fact in that community…man, I can’t even begin. I’ve almost come to the conclusion there’s no point in even trying to bridge that gulf anymore; just leave everybody to their own beliefs and hope that the side that my political leanings favor has enough numbers to outvote them.
I can’t vote for Trump. Even well into the primaries I was actually leaving the door open just a crack, both in the interest of open-mindedness and in case he started to turn toward the middle once he secured the nomination, as is common with presidential candidates; I joked that he would start saying things that even I would agree with…but to say he’s doubled down on his incendiary remarks that are completely calculated to fan the flames of bigotry is an understatement. I think he’s a charlatan, an insecure bully, and a xenophobe, among countless other things that have been well documented. And I’m convinced he’d be a disaster for this country. Not that my vote will matter in the Electoral College, since Trump as a Republican will carry Kansas easily. But the popular vote has its own moral value, and I want to be counted in that.
Been trying to decide if I should comment on what happened in Orlando. I’ve “been there, done that” on that round-about of futility that I call debating/arguing over the pertinent issues/controversies surrounding tragedies like this. Being in a line of work that takes me to countless amazing public events, I occasionally reflect on how easy it would be for somebody to commit an act like this anywhere. And not just an event, but any bar or club where people gather. But ultimately I get immersed in the event and do my thing and have a good time. Just last week a colleague and I shot a band at KC’s own Pridefest, and at the time my colleague expressed concern about a wackjob opening fire there. I understood his concern, but in the end, we can only live our lives.
It’s maddening that the dynamic of the narrative is almost completely predicated on if the shooter is white (“He had MENTAL ISSUES!”), or Muslim (“His religion MADE HIM DO IT!”), or black or hispanic (“DRUG DEAL gone bad!”). Be honest, when the news broke, how many of you were hoping it would turn out to be the scenario that fit YOUR political viewpoint? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
So far, it seems like it’s the second one, which sets its own tone of debate away from gun access to religious motivations and how we need to “do something” about “those muslims”. Yeah, let’s persecute people based ENTIRELY on their religion (and let’s dig up Muhammad Ali’s remains and burn them while we’re at it). The fact is, any of those scenarios are possible and all have happened, and not always with the attendant motivations attached to the ethnicity of the perpetrator. I happen to think assholes like this will use anything that conveniently rationalizes their actions because what they really want is a sense of power and agency in a world where they’ve never had any, whether it’s a religious verse in a book motivating them, or something as mundane as not being able to get laid (or sometimes even both).
What are the answers to stopping things like this? The pointless debates everyone keeps rehashing seems to assume there are straightforward answers that will fix problems like this, IF ONLY the other side got their heads out of their asses and complied. But the thing is, maybe there ARE NO answers and this is just something we have to accept as being a fact of life in the 21st century. Tighter gun control laws wouldn’t necessarily have stopped this; if the asshole who did this was determined, he could’ve acquired a gun illegally with only a little effort. Monitoring and profiling muslims also wouldn’t have necessarily stopped this; a lone wolf actor (like this guy probably will turn out to be) is very difficult to identify and, despite Donald Trump’s assertions to the contrary, often times his own family doesn’t see it coming (as the asshole’s father has already issued a statement on).
I’ve said this before: nearly all of us drive a car or truck everyday, and many of us fly on airplanes on a regular basis, each with its attendant risks from accidents and crashes (car crashes alone accounting for a far higher death total in a year than mass shootings/terror attacks). But we still do it, because we accept the risks and take the best precautions we can. I’m sure there are people reading this ready to come after me for coming across as being callous, insensitive or “blind to the facts” or some other bullshit that will fit their political vantage point. Fine, whatever. I hate what happened in Orlando. And I hate what happened in San Bernadino and in Paris. I also hate what happened at the movie theaters in Colorado and Louisiana. Not to mention the black church in South Carolina. We need to do the best we can to prevent things like this from happening, but with the full understanding that nothing we do can really end it, only mitigate it and perhaps prevent as many such incidents as possible.
I realize this may sound fatalistic or even depressing, and for a lot of people who are convinced that this is a problem that can ultimately be “fixed” if only we executed the solution of their choice (banning guns vs banning muslims), it probably sounds ludicrous and tantamount to throwing my hands up in surrender (more like futility). But it’s really not. I believe that when you accept the world as it is, you begin to live you can begin to make the best choices for your own life personally, and also to promote change in more effective ways. Say a prayer for those who lost their lives and their families, and give thanks for the blessings we do have.
What I took away from this week’s developments is the following:
• A football championship game increases the odds of expansion significantly. (NOTE: I’m just saying it increases the odds significantly, NOT that it makes it inevitable.) A round robin schedule that guarantees a rematch among ten teams is asinine and that will quickly become apparent (if it’s not already).
• The pro rata that Big XII Commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed exists and the means of divvying that new money (by giving the newcomers a smaller cut initially and splitting the rest among everyone else) only makes expansion much more enticing.
• No traditional TV network completely changes the paradigm of how you select expansion candidates, because it’s no longer about the TV market you can allegedly bring to the conference. Goodbye UConn, UCF, and USF. The Florida schools may continue to hold out the vain hope that they can still bring a fertile recruiting base to the conference, but that’s a pipe dream.
• No traditional TV network also means that no P5 school will defect to the Big XII in any circumstance, now. Why would an Arkansas, Florida State, or even a Nebraska ever consider leaving the guaranteed equal share of their respective conferences to come over only to immediately make less money than Texas? Sure, any of them could leverage their own third tier rights and probably make as much as Oklahoma…but that’s still less than half of what Texas pulls. Had there been a Big XII network with the Longhorns rolled in and everybody pulling an equal share, it might have been possible for an Arkansas or FSU to consider a change, but certainly not now.
• Expansion candidates will now be vetted based primarily off the school’s brand and football/athletics competitiveness and overall fit. This vaults BYU back up to the top spot (if it ever really dropped far). Nobody can realistically argue that they are not already a P5 caliber athletics program (see: BYU beating OU and Texas in football recently). They are Big XII Team Number Eleven, in my book.
• I’m wondering if the pro rata allows for bringing in just one team, because it’s intriguing to consider just bringing in BYU and calling it a day, at least for a couple years. They’re the one program everybody could agree would bring a quality athletics program in, and if the Big Ten got by scheduling 11 teams for 20 years, there’s no reason the Big XII can’t do the same for a few years until they decide on the twelfth team.
• Houston is back in the mix based off it’s recent (not just last year) success. Whether the Big XII already “owns” the Houston market is a moot point, now. See what Boren said about fans wanting to watch games against quality opponents. Both Cougar schools are definitely that, and any Sooners fans who are acting like they’re not looking forward to the chance to pound Houston all the way back to Conference USA in September are full of it. Quality games also includes the history Houston has with the other Texas schools; who are Longhorns fans, TCU fans, etc going to get more excited about playing should there be expansion: Cincinnati, or Houston? Houston is my second expansion pick. (If adding a fifth Texas school is ultimately deemed too much, then Cincinnati is my alternate.)
• I still maintain that Oklahoma and Texas can’t just bail on the conference without significant political resistance within their respective state legislature’s about leaving OSU and Tech behind. Some may argue that A&M got out just fine, but they weren’t the flagship school of their state, nor did their departure cause the conference to collapse. (Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado, for that matter, did not have in-conference brethren they were leaving behind, so there was never any political fight to be had.) OU and Tx leaving on their own effectively reduces their states’ Power 5 schools from two to one (in Oklahoma) and from five to two in Texas (Tx and A&M). (The same applies for KU and K-State.) The political resistance in both states’ (three, including Kansas) to such a move will be fiercer than anybody really is accounting for.
• Finally, this leads to the most realistic option for Texas and Oklahoma leaving the conference after the GoR expires, which is basically what they had the chance to do at the beginning of all this: take their state schools and go west, to the Pac. This forms a logical eastern division of the Texas and Oklahoma schools, the Arizona schools, Utah, and Colorado. I know the Az schools will hate it because they’ll be cut off from California, but they’d have to adapt by recruiting in Texas, instead. This allows Tx and OU to both leave the conference with minimal political blowback (though TCU and Baylor will fight in vain to stop it). If Tx and OU leave the conference in nine years, that is how it will happen.