When I first thought about this column, I wanted it to be a rant about my seemingly endless Facebook friends who have gone off their rockers in rants of their own or send me endless email rants. And all with the particularly vicious purity of true believers.
But I cannot work myself up. Instead, I think about my old childhood friend, Greg, who incessantly rants on Facebook and the net. He just makes me weary and regretful.
Greg grew up with me in old CdM, went to CdM High, then hung around the old neighborhood before diverging into his own long and unique trajectory. He’s been married, I think, some seven times, at least once to the same woman. He never bothered with college. It was too tiresome and he was too busy rejecting the post-World-War II value system. Back then, that particular deliberate lack of educated “brain-washing” became a badge of honor.
Instead, he retreated into drugs, mostly smoking dope, and making things with his hands. That was really popular then. It got you into something “real,” something The Man could not corrupt. Further, he was good at it, especially woodworking. He could make chairs, tables, chests of drawers and all kinds of great stuff of high quality and actually sell them for a profit.
For him, like so many of my old CdM friends, the OC became too expensive and too complicated and too much. So he, like they, moved, not really by choice, but because it was cheaper elsewhere. Greg ended up in rural Oregon, cracker territory. He moved around more than a little and once was arrested for growing marijuana within a state wilderness park that abutted where he lived. He got probation, lucky him, mainly because he had children and was their only support.
Now he sits in front of the screens where he receives and sends reams of hate literature, videos, petitions and the like. They all are of the same bent: vicious anti-establishment rants, mostly directed at Obama, but also at the educated elite, whoever they are.
By contrast, my old boss at Citibank in New York City, Carlos, who was the super-educated epitome of the multi-lingual international banker, tends to send rants penned by others or bitter cartoons. Their essence is the same as Greg’s. Carlos is retired now and sees no shame in receiving his pension checks (very generous, thank you, he was in senior management) and health benefits from an institution nationalized because it was too big to fail. That his bank, once considered the best of the best, failed because it went on a de-regulated rage to ruin to him is of no consequence. His ignorance, unlike Greg’s, is willful. He is capable of understanding financial complexity, but wills it away with tired slogans. So I find him, and I am sorry to say this because for so long he was something of a hero, intellectually contemptible.
With Greg, it is just sad. He sits in his depleted, little town, and views the world through the lens of hate journalism. And with nothing else to do, he haunts the net. I am thinking of introducing them one to another. It would be an experiment. Would they, with so much ranting in common, find themselves friends?
Michael Ray grew up in CdM and now lives in Laguna Beach. He makes a living as a real estate entrepreneur and is involved in many non-profits.