There used to be a low-priced steakhouse on the north side of Chicago called Biasetti’s Steak & Rib House. Our pal Eddie lived nearby, and used to say, “Biasetti’s is a great place to have a fight with your wife.”
We always thought he was kidding. Who would knowingly go to a public place to have a fight with his wife?
Well, I’m starting to wonder.
I have asked people who regularly use Facebook and other social media feeds to post remind everyone what a shit Trump is, “What are you trying to accomplish?”
Do they honestly believe they’re influencing some portion of their Facebook friends, or girding people on their side to vote? And do they believe that whatever dubious good they might be doing makes up for the harm that could come from further embittering the people who vote for Trump out of revenge against the self-righteous left?
Actually, a lot of them are using Facebook to yell in public at loved ones with whom they are no longer communicating in private.
For instance, a Writing Boots reader agrees that her endless Trump trashing is mostly noise pollution at this point. But, she says she can’t help herself: “It is really hard when your daughter is a Trump supporter.”
I haven’t asked her, but I’m willing to bet that her daughter’s support of Trump wasn’t the first sign of a rift in their relationship. I think Trump has turned a lot of families’ cold wars—you remember before Trump when everyone merrily acknowledged their family was completely dysfunctional, right?—into a rhetorical shooting war.
The other day at the risk of encouraging a Facebook friend who frequently trolls Trump, I actually complimented him on the uncommon wit of his posts.
“The trolling is mostly for my cousins who are beyond redemption,” he replied. “They don’t talk to me anymore. I tried to be nice at first. But how do you argue or convince people who use the word ‘educated’ as an insult? It’s just mind blowing how many people don’t recognize their own reality. I’m so disappointed.”
I live in the anti-Trump bubble, so I don’t see as much ragging on Biden. But of course it’s out there. And much of it must be done with the same motive: Not to influence events, but to wound an audience of one or two—Smarmy Aunt Sally and Smug Uncle Tim—by indiscriminate artillery shelling of a distant, unseen army on the other side of the river.
These are not attempts at communication or persuasion. Really, they’re not even attempts to score points with people we feel are lost to us. They’re public expressions of old pain, and we should try to remember to read them as such. And if we are tempted to write them, maybe we should just write what we mean: “I am so disappointed.” And maybe we should try to bring ourselves to finish the sentence: Because I loved you so much.
Anyway, a few months after Eddie died, a few of us took his widow out for dinner to see how she was doing. She was doing all right. And if she wasn’t, she wasn’t going to tell Eddie’s drinking buddies. We must have run out of things to talk about, because at some point, somebody mentioned that Biasetti’s had recently closed. “Biasetti’s!” she cried. “Oh, the fights Ed and I used to have in there!”