Shifts from beloved artist to FAM (formerly approved of musician).
By Fred Mills
One of the things I did during the recent election season was steer clear, for the most part, of posting political rants, screeds, and random echo-chamber verbiage to social media. Not that I felt I was going to make a difference, of course; I just decided I preferred to pitch my tent outside that chamber. The conclusion of the election hasn’t changed anything, and there are both liberal and conservative trolls every place you click.
Apparently Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy has just about had it with trolling, too, as this weekend he went to the Women’s March with his wife and posted the above photo to Wilco’s social media, only to have the trolls come out in force on social media. So he has posted a letter to the trolls. Well, I “like” that quite a bit. Read it, below:
Dear fellow citizens who are being mean in our comments section,
I don’t know you so it’s hard for me to accurately guess how much time you spend on your devices commenting on and unfollowing “celebrities” and moderately well known music figures. My assumption is that it’s more than even you would care to admit. Since I don’t know you it’s extremely difficult for me to weigh the degree to which I should take you seriously. Still, it’s easier to infer things about you than it is to take on board your criticism of me. For example: When you say something about Bill Clinton it makes me realize that you’re old (or at least as old as I am) but it means nothing to me because I don’t care for the man and I don’t know where anyone would get the idea that I do.
Anyway, it occurred to me that being in the position I’m in – where people devote their time and energy to negatively comment and insult their Formerly Approved of Musician™ (F.A.M. – I think that’s going to really take off as a phrase in these upcoming years) for lending his support to things he and his band mates and all of our families have feelings about – I should take advantage of the opportunity to occupy your time and energy as often as possible to infiltrate your minds. Not because I have much hope of changing your opinions (again, I don’t know you, so I’m not sure what your bag is) but I mean, MAYBE our sincerity about the things that concern us can inspire some deeper investigation into those concerns. I suppose that’s why we share our opinions on Facebook, social media, etc., but I think it’s more often than not just a helpful reminder to like-minded people (our bubble?) not to despair and to try to remain hopeful. It’s a place for us to model some coping strategies that have made us feel better as citizens and to remind people to participate.
Speaking of bubbles…sure, we live in a bubble. I’d love for more of you to share our bubble though! It’s awesome! In our bubble I know cops and rappers and grocery store cashiers and artists and garbage collectors…so many decent people that don’t really care that much about people being different than they are. If you can trust a reality TV star billionaire when he says, “believe me,” surely you can believe me when I say you’re welcome in my bubble. I grew up in what I think might be something like your bubble. You should at least try this one! Come on in!
Or….maybe you just get off on getting people angry and it helps you blow off a little steam and feel a tiny bit more in control of your life. Good for you. Or…maybe you’re serious about all the hurtful things you’ve been saying. If you ARE serious, I would like to welcome you back to our little corner of the web to spit and foam anytime you like. I can take it. I’m not afraid of you. There are more of us here and there always will be. So please come back! We’ll keep laying out dishes of warm outrage for you to lap up in the form of our vision of a better world, causes we believe in, actions we’re taking, etc., and in turn we’ll have peace of mind in knowing that you aren’t out in the world acting on the anger so evident in your hastily typed and misspelled defenses of a man who has been elevated to a position of immense power but in whom I’ve yet to see any evidence of virtue. You’ll be here where we want you and the most vulnerable among us will have one less danger to encounter.
With love (seriously),