Posting on Facebook has become difficult.
It’s symptomatic of the growing divisions in our country that I’m wary of posting anything I fear anyone might take issue with and defriend me over or decide they hate me. I already had that happen once over vaccines. What made it even more obnoxious is that I only started posting things about how dumb anti-vaxxers are after watching weeks of the anti-vaxxers on my feed post about how anyone vaccinating their kids is injecting them with horrible toxins and giving them autism. So they can dish it out, but they certainly can’t take it.
After that I decided I shouldn’t argue anymore on facebook and I should do my best to never, ever post anything political that wasn’t tongue in cheek, humorous, or thought provoking (in the sense of “this article was really interesting!”). Then again, the last category may be a mistake as well since most people don’t like to have their thoughts provoked so much as confirmed.
My position is a bit more awkward than most. I consider myself to be libertarian, but over the years my views have changed slowly. I’ve gone from right-leaning libertarian to left-leaning libertarian, to be exact. Or maybe I’m not even libertarian at all anymore. I don’t know. I may actually be more of a neo-liberal now. But since my wider social circle is heavily libertarian, I don’t really want to rock the boat too much.
Take climate change, for example. I used to not believe in it. Then I decided okay fine, the climate IS changing, but it’s not humans who are doing it. The Earth’s climate just changes over time. Then my husband told me one day that he now believe in anthropogenic climate change.
I stared at him. “This is like waking up one morning and discovering I’m married to a leftist.” Then I asked him to explain why and send me the information that changed his mind.
I read through it and it changed mine, too. And with how I am, if I discover I’m wrong about one thing, I have to examine the vast majority of my beliefs to see what I think about those. It’s annoying and time consuming.
Even more annoying was the number of people on my feed who didn’t (and still don’t) believe in climate change. So if we have a cold day in summer, it’s “global warming lol.” If Spring is particularly cold, it’s “I could sure use some of that global warming lol.” But when it’s mid-October and we’re still running around in shorts…crickets. When we have a week of 100F weather when we used to have none…crickets. When the DoT has crews going around the state enlarging culverts to handle the increased water flow, they don’t notice. When people talk about Boston disappearing under a higher sea level, nothing.
But I know if I were to post about my new views on Facebook, I would be shat on.
The interesting thing is I do know some libertarians personally who do believe in climate change, so I know I’m not alone. But I get the feeling they, too, are closeted.
I eventually reconciled my belief in climate change and libertarianism by remembering that the environment as a whole is a good example of market failure. No one owns the air or water, so no one has a direct incentive not to dirty it. No one owns the future of the Earth and our own shortsightedness makes us reluctant to do anything to protect it for those who will, especially if it might mean some inconveniences today. So I’m perfectly fine with the government intervening and creating a market for carbon, such as trading carbon credits and having a carbon tax. People need to be made responsible for their negative externalities as much as possible.
More radically, I also support charging 5 cents for shopping bags. Free shopping bags really piss me off. They’re such a waste. There’s no reason every item I buy in the grocery store needs its own bag. All those bags do is join the thousand others in my cabinet until I finally need a new one for my trashcan. Five cents is a small enough cost to just be annoying and motivate people to bring their own reusable bags.
But from how some libertarians I know react, you’d think it was the same as suggesting we should try wiping out the Armenians again. Apparently personal responsibility doesn’t extend to the trash you produce or the consequences of the things you consume? For many libertarians I know, they believe in personal responsibility only to the point where it’s inconvenient. Then it doesn’t matter, isn’t important or the problem doesn’t exist in the first place. This is the position they take on vaccinations if they’re anti-vax (“Herd immunity is a myth! Vaccines cause the diseases!”), climate change (“Government grab for power! The climate has always changed!”) and educational neglect (“Government grab for power! It’s unschooling! There’s nothing wrong with putting your kids to work!”).
You have to admit, denying a problem exists is a clever way to justify you not taking any responsibility for it. The problem is eventually that denial is going to catch up with you and kick you in the ass.
So, at any rate, I try not to discuss politics, which is difficult considering my social group. It’s probably time to work on finding a new one, or seeking out the ones in the group who find themselves in a similar predicament.