CTRL+F Political Statements
If you live in the US and have any sort of social media presence, or if you ever make the mistake of reading the comments section of any online news source, you have seen them: CTRL+F Political Statements.
The CTRL+F Method of Writing was defined to me by the late, great Christopher Doheny in describing how he assumed Danielle Steele wrote books. CTRL+F is the “find” function in Microsoft, and allows you to “find and replace” text elements throughout a Microsoft Word Document. Chris sometimes held forth that he believed authors like Danielle Steele would use CTRL+F to replace place names, peoples’ names, and other proper nouns, and then release the same story again as a “new” book. The joke being, of course, that her fiction, and that of many other high-selling authors, was repetitive and meaningless; lazily constructed and not worth much.
I’ve noticed this same style of writing is increasingly popular in political commentary. It’s not limited to one side of a political argument, either; in fact, passionate human beings at any place on the political spectrum can employ the method to suit their needs (and they do!).
As an example, here’s an actual statement from a comment on a Washington Post article I read today about Trump and Clinton throwing insults back and forth:
“Democrats have become a hate group. From BLM to the anarchists, enough said…”
CTRL+F here and replace “Democrats” with “Republicans”. Then substitute “BLM” and “anarchists” with any conservative-leaning group you can think of; the more fringe, the better. “KKK” works well in place of “BLM”, as does “fascists” in place of “anarchists”. Voilà! It worked!
“Republicans have become a hate group. From the KKK to the fascists, enough said…”
It doesn’t matter that most Republicans are not friendly to the KKK, nor that fascism is abhorrent to most Americans and is not part of a true Republican platform; this is CTRL+F Politics!
You could CTRL+F to replace these nouns with high school cliques and get the same result:
“Popular girls have become a hate group. From The Plastics to the cheerleading squad, enough said…”
Notice the complete lack of nuance or thought. It’s simply name-calling.
CTRL+F Political Statements are stupid, to put it bluntly. None of these statements bring any light to an argument; just heat. They are not usually based in fact as much as they are based in emotional responses to perceived ideas or loose interpretations of rumor. They are usually ad hominem, full of colorful adjectives, and cannot be refuted or denied because they are not based in fact.
Sometimes they include clever misspellings of a political candidate or group’s name, such as “Shrillary” or “Drumpf”, to drive home a political commentator’s absolute disdain for a candidate based on nothing other than the way they talk or what suits they wear. Those who use the method appear to also use CTRL+F to replace a word or words with ALL CAPS versions to drive the message of hatred even further home.
CTRL+F Political Statements are lazy, childish,and unbecoming. To avoid making them yourself, I suggest the following:
- Analyze your comment for CTRL+F-ability. If you simply replaced the proper noun(s) in your statement, would the statement still work as an accusation lobbed against your side of the argument?
- Check to see if you’re just making personal statements about political candidates. Ad hominem attacks are, as I stated before, inherently lazy and unbecoming, and show a lack of understanding of actual issues.
- Fact-check your feelings. Back up your statements with fact, and make sure those facts didn’t come from a satire site like ClickHole or the Onion and can’t be disproved on Snopes.com. In fact, if you can CTRL+F the articles from which you get your “facts” and replace all the proper nouns with the proper nouns from the opposite side of the political spectrum and basically come up with the same article, don’t use those articles in arguments.
- Call others out on CTRL+F Statements. Do your part to elevate the discussion rather than drag it into the realm of hate-filled drivel.
What’s your favorite CTRL+F Political Statement making the rounds lately?