I’m a Lefty and I Joined a Trump Supporters Facebook Group: Here’s what I learned
I, like many people in the modern world, get most of my news from social media. Twitter and Facebook keep me informed, help form my opinions, reinforce deeply held beliefs and, on a few occasion, rid me of a few misconceptions. The amount of information provided from online news sources is too much for a human brain to handle and social media allows me to see highlights filtered and selected by people whose opinion I (sometimes) respect. There is an obvious downside of this level of reliance on social media and, as one might expect, I created a very cosy bubble in which only ideas that support my viewpoint get through and where disagreements are over minor details with people with whom I mostly agree. Most posts on my Facebook feed are from lefties (with the exception of those from that family member) and most arguments and conversations I have on social media are with people espousing slightly different iterations of left wing ideology. Social media bubbles also very rapidly result in the demonisation of one’s political opposites. Were you to read a few selected highlights from my feed you’d think that all Conservatives were soulless vampires whose goal is to spend eternity feeding off the blood of the lower socioeconomic classes who have been herded into privatised ex NHS hospitals.
So in an attempt to try and burst my bubble I sought out the enemy on Facebook and came across the Trump Supporters Unite Group (literally the only one that let me join). The media, especially the left leaning elements of the British Media, had focused a lot of its attention on the more radical elements of the Trumposphere. Trump supporters (Trumpers, Trumpians, Trumpettes? We lefties have better labels) are often portrayed as backward, inward looking, and racist. It’s a view I certainly held, backed up by any number of youtube videos of the hundreds of supporter rallies that helped pave Trump’s way to the White House. More broadly, I felt that Trump’s supporters fitted into two categories — the bigots and the people who didn’t care about the bigotry if it meant achieving their own political goals.
I wanted to see if there was a different side to the story so I joined the group Trump Supporters United. I also joined the group because I thought it may be funny.
I have, to the best of my ability, attempted to accurately reflect the tone of the group and although the following may appear selective, a few minutes in the group will confirm that this a fair representation. Here’s what I found out -
Lesson 1- They Have Awesome Graphics (Fuck Yeah!)
The first thing that you notice is that the Alt Right are superior to us lefties when it comes to badass cover art.
Yes. That’s correct. Trump calmly surfing on a Trump Tank. Explosions. An eagle. A big fuck off star spangled banner. Compare this to a comparable leftie facebook group’s cover art -
If I did not know who those two people were I’d think this was a group where retired teachers argue about their favourite curricula.
So yes, they out do us lefties with the graphics.
Lesson 2 — They have rules (that no one follows)
The group has around 40,000 members, all of whom have been asked to follow the the rules outlined in the pinned post. Rule Number 1 is that you have to be a Trump Supporter to post (oops). Rule Number 2 is “No bashing of members, Trump, or his policies”.
Rule 3 is the most interesting, and something we will need to come back to:
“Racist and anti-religion posts will be deleted. This means ALL religions and races including (but not limited to) Christians and Muslims. Same goes for posts against foreign countries and the LGBT community. There is bullying caused by these types of posts. I fully support Trump’s denouncing of this type of behavior, especially when done under his name.”
Rule 7 will also become important later and starts “Please do your best to fact check before making posts to avoid propaganda”.
The founder of this group and keeper of the rules seems nice and is not only anti gay bashing and race baiting, she also runs a support group for people with bipolar disorder. So perhaps my prejudices are going to be undermined after all?
(the list of trigger warnings for the rest of this would be too long. Just don’t continue if you are human)
Lesson 3 — Members love fake news (unless they disagree with it)
I must be clear in my definition of fake news here. It’s a term that has been hijacked by people across the political spectrum in order to undermine any news source with whom one may not agree. The Fake news I am talking about here are the intentionally fictional news stories designed to attract clicks and increase ad revenue. Most of the shared items on the group are clearly fake, clickbaity and sharebaity, news stories.
At time of writing, here are some of the recent headlines being shared on the group:
(this is still a thing)
(No she wasn’t)
(this didn’t happen)
Some of these stories are from such reputable (and ad heavy) sites as DailyAmericanPatriot, FreedomWriters (probably the most prolific source on the group), and WorldNews4You. It’s rare that these stories are called out by group members as being fake, and those that are are usually obvious celebrity death hoaxes or “fake” anti Trump Stories. They are especially happy to call it out if a fake news is shared by an anti trump Muslim with his name written in arabic, like this story -
Which led to some of the following incredulity -
(This was actually based on a real poll conducted for MSNBC by Quinnipiac University)
Fake News will remain a common theme as we move into the darker aspects of this group.
Lesson 4 — They love being polled (and they vote with likes, shares and Amens!)
Can you guess how people responded to these? Polls are almost always linked to a fake news story or fictional statement by a celeb. Members are asked to give an “Amen” or “Like/Share if you agree” on all kind of topics ranging from a future presidential run by Michelle Obama (a resounding “No”) or whether a (fictional) Muslim refugee should be executed for raping a girl (a resounding “Yes”).
Lesson 5 — Many members are just unapologetic racists and they are terrified of Muslims (especially the Obamas!)
It’s a group with many racist members and the rest, at best, seem very comfortable with racism. There is no ambiguity about their views, and they are in no way ashamed of them. Much of this racism is directed toward the Obamas. I have seen uses of the N word to describe the former president and members of the first family and have seen the following picture posted in the comments at least twice (without challenge from other commenters).
Much of this bigotry is reserved for Muslims (with nearly all placing the Obamas in that category) and refugees from the Middle East. Oh, and apparently there’s a Civil War In Alabama:
This is a story that has been shared a number of times with dozens of comments very much in agreement that we should deport all Muslims involved because of a fictional war. Unlike most of the other fake news stories, a small number of the 90+ comments called this out for being Fake News (maybe because they picked up on the awful grammar or maybe actually live in Alabama). One person managed to trade one pile of bullshit for another.
Oh yeah, Sweden is also on the brink of Civil War
(it isn’t in case you think you missed something)
Anti Muslim bigotry forms the backbone of this group and nearly all of it is based on fake news stories about Muslim/refugee child murderers and paedophiles, Muslim judges taking over judiciaries and the terrifying prospect of an “imminent” Muslim state Governor.
Actually, this one one has some truth to it (though imminent is too strong a word) and Trumpettes are not happy.
Pictures of injured children with headlines like “BREAKING: This Kid Was Beaten To Death By Muslim Refugee In Texas. Would You Support Trump If He Deport Them All?” adorn the site with many comments calling for the execution of the (fictional) assailants and deportation of all Muslims as collective punishment for a fictional crime. None of the commenters seem to have done the two minute research it takes to discover that the pictures are from completely unrelated stories and the stories entirely from the mind of people making cash out of Trumpian credulity.
Lesson 6 — They fantasise about the harm befalling Trump’s enemies (and love his supporters)
The group doesn’t like Hollywood. Apparently Celebrities are plotting against trump.
But don’t worry, karma seems to be intervening. Apparently Alec Baldwin was beaten up by a Trump supporter.
Except that’s neither Alec nor any of the Baldwins. It’s a picture from another news story (ironically, one in which a Trump supporter was badly assaulted).
Other people who get fictional comeuppance include Meryl Streep:
Ashley Judd, who suffered an “Unexpected Surprise” for pointing out that America is behind some Middle Eastern countries in terms number of women political representatives:
(to be clear, she never said she wanted to live in the middle east)
George Clooney, who is the focus of a story combining the group’s love of fake news, hatred of Muslims, and fictional celebrity comeuppance:
And poor miley Cyrus has suffered a particularly harsh form of fictional comeuppance, British Citizenship!
(If you were wondering the answer to the above question was a resounding “Yes”)
The main thing that these celebs have in common is their liberal views and criticism of Trump and they seem to live in a hazardous world.
Some celebrities come in for praise, especially those who support Trump (whether they do or not). Matthew McConaughey, Jeff Bridges, and Nicole Kidman seem to be favourites, largely because they utter vague sentiments along the lines of “give Trump a chance”.
There is also a strange obsession with protesters, often from Black Lives Matter, being run over by angry motorists with commenters firmly on the side of the vehicle bound:
And the 7th and final lesson — They live in a very different world to me
The world in which members of this group exist more resembles that of a Cormac McCarthy novel than the world I live in. Terrorists or “Moslems”, led by the Obama family, have overrun the country and are attempting to take control of the US’s most sacred institutions, parts of America and Western Europe are in state of civil war and bands of refugees are roaming the countryside raping and murdering women and children whilst the Hollywood elite looks on and laughs. But out of the dust has risen a leader, a prophet, the man who will take make America great again. He will deport all the terrorists, wash his hands of Europe and his enemies will all get their comeuppance in the form of random street violence, loss of career, being embarrassed on social media and suffering the worst fate of all, exile to Europe!
This is not the world we live in. The idea that some people think we do live in that world is terrifying, as is the thought that people enjoy (and make bank from) perpetuating this dark fiction.
I joined this group with a genuine open mind having met political opposites before, finding more common ground than I might expect and forming long lasting friendships despite ideological differences. Any surprise I did experience pointed in the wrong direction as it seems things are worse than I thought. I wrote earlier that I used to think that trump supporters were “backward, inward looking, and racist”. Were I to re-evaluate my views of Trump supporters based on the time I’ve spent in the group, the only thing that would change would be the addition of deluded and vindictive to that list.
Have a look at the group and give me an AMEN if you agree!