The New Tragic Mulatto —
on Social Media?

I took a very informal poll (of like, two people) to find out if most friends on social media are like-minded and homogeneous.

Question: Do you have a very diverse mix of friends on social media or do they tend to be the same? Like, filmmakers, artists, queers, white people, people of color, mods, activists, Republicans, or what?

Answer 1: I have a mix. No religious freaks that I know of, or any hard Republicans. At least as far as Twitter goes. My Facebook is way more diverse. I have a lot of musician friends on Facebook, more than Twitter.

Answer 2: Hmm. Mostly similar, i.e., progressive, artists, queer or queer-supportive, mix of POC/white. Small number are old high school friends or relatives who are more conservative that I don’t interact with really. Should probably unfriend those people!

I asked because I realized recently: I have a very diverse mix of friends on social media. They come from all walks of life, and yes, they include filmmakers, artists, queers, white people, people of color, 60s music aficionados, left-wing activists, Republicans, and “or what”. I have rich friends. I have poor friends. CEOs. VPs. The unemployed. Hustlers. Thieves. Authors. Atheists. Christians. Actors. Poets. Politicians. Comedians. Kids. Just about every race, creed, ethnicity, and religious belief is represented.

Some of my Facebook “friends” I don’t know all that well, but I respect them. Even so, more often than not, I feel as though I don’t quite fit in anywhere.

Outside of social media, I have very few close friends, or rather, confidantes. This could be part pride, part laziness, part same feeling of not always fitting in. Feelings of not quite being part of the pack, I know, are common. If they weren’t, there’d be no such thing as teen angst.

But I’m not a teen. And I consider myself a pretty confident person. So what’s up with this “not fitting in”, which seems to be thrown into greater relief on social media?

Could this be the New Tragic Mulatto?

Granted, the fictional stereotype involved nasty things like self-loathing, depression, and sometimes suicide. So extreme! The New Tragic Mulatto isn’t so much tragic as kinda-sorta listless sometimes. How would I define this archetype?

The New Tragic Mulatto is an entity on social media who, despite having a diverse social network, feels “not quite [x] enough” in many virtual communities, such as not quite queer enough, or not quite POC enough, or not quite 60s enough. Speaking in situational terms: she’s on the periphery of the periphery. The New Tragic Mulatto often can’t quite keep up with the rules of any given social group, always seeking to do and be something different from what the group dictates. As a result, she ends up bringing this dynamic to the non-virtual world, meaning she mostly avoids social events and goes to sleep early.

Well, I don’t *entirely* avoid social events, but if one is feeling like an outsider is she really present at the event?

Whether this phenomena is truly tragic or a run of the mill midlife crisis is anyone’s guess. Or maybe Mulattos are onto something that transcends any of the dynamics created by their social groups, online or otherwise. Social ties, after all, are ultimately a good thing, outsider status notwithstanding.

I’ll think about all this again in the morning, after a good night’s early sleep.


Fox News is Really, Really Awful

I’m done! I made it through two weeks of Fox News!

I should be honest. I broke down after only a week into my fast. I didn’t quite cheat all the way, however—I kept to my pledge of not consuming any left-wing news. This was quite hard. I found other things to do, anything else to do, like chores. I caught up on email. I went to bed earlier. I sat and stared at nothing.

What was it like feeding only on Fox News for two weeks?

One of the first things I encountered was rants from Chris Stirewalt, who introduced me to the term Hopium in the context of Obama addiction. It was all uphill from there. After suffering through stories like the Massachusetts court case on the mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, how the closing of nuclear power plants is bad, and the “vicious boycott” of a Christian bakery by “militant homosexual activists,” I broke down and started checking Facebook. Not the news feed, mind you, but any invites I got, or comments folks had left on my posts.

It got really bad on September 3rd. I wrote in my Fox Log (flog?):

My brain is melting from lack of intelligent discourse. I’m cheating slightly since my wife has been starting discussions based on NPR shows she’s heard. Massive lefty news withdrawal. Today’s Fox headlines: turned-in guns can’t be destroyed in North Carolina (“save the gun”) and a major union cut ties with the ACLU due to Obamacare because they want single-payer and are calling no-use fees a “tax.”

I realized: yes, there is a clear right-leaning bias in Fox News. I knew this going into it and it’s why I did this. Anyone who doesn’t know this is probably watching Fox News. Still, I came to understand something deeper, which is that Fox really does tailor its content to folks who have about a 6th-grade education, or at the very least, those who are on the lower end of the education hierarchy of needs. And yet, those folks are out there, living Fox lives.

It made me question my existence as a card carrying, flame throwing liberal. Am I doing enough? Is petition signing, creating “alternative” films, donating to humanitarian causes and projects, and the occasional street protest enough?

After my brief existential crisis, I took heart. I knew I hadn’t been converted into an unquestioning, bible-thumping, hawkish bigot, and that yes, I’m happy with my life and my level of liberal political involvement. Drew Westen was right—I’m hard-wired to be as liberal as my parents. My mom took in a little girl after a particularly bad Jamaican hurricane in the 1950s. My heart is destined to bleed at a similar velocity.

A few days before the end of my fast, I opened Facebook and saw I’d been invited to a queer and trans people of color filmmakers collective. Life was as it should be.

In sum: I’ll never do this again.

A Liberal Fast: Consuming Right-Wing Media for Two Weeks

“I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty. I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it.”― Paul Krugman

I get most of my news from several primary sources: social media (specifically Facebook and Twitter, where breaking stories often hit before the mainstream media outlets get to them), Huffington Post, BBC News, CNN, New York Times,, The Washington Post, and other stalwarts of the lefty press. On Facebook, I “like” clever, left-wing memes with pithy, sarcastic, fact-based insights. I’ve voted Democrat in every election since I was legally able, and I’m often sympathetic to Green candidates.

My parents were Democrats. Was I programmed to vote along the same party lines as them? In The Political Brain, Drew Westen writes, “The single best predictor of party affiliation—and of the broader value systems associated with it—is in fact the party affiliation of our parents.” Am I genetically predisposed to support Obamacare, food stamps, and Social Security?

I don’t keep up with Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly. (Although, I did watch Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium and offered spirited rebuttals to my computer screen. I thought Jon Stewart won.) I consume enough liberal-centric media, however, to think Republicans are stupid. They do things like think Obama was responsible for the slow response to Hurricane Katrina. According to the media I know and love, Republicans are self-centered and less educated, and they attempt to argue with biblical scholars. Are they really soulless idiots, or is it all just partisan hype? Has Cinemulatto been brainwashed? Can genetic political ties be broken and reprogrammed?

Well, I’m going to find out. How? I’m going to subject myself to the most lambasted right-wing news source out there. I’m going to watch Fox News for two weeks. No Facebook. No Twitter. No liberal media. I’ll try and see the other side. I know the odds are against me. Still, in an attempt to presoak my prefrontal cortex in a new, squeaky-clean, triple-action detergent, Fox News will be my sole news source until the next Cinemulatto post.

Wish me luck. I’ll report back in two weeks.