There is a general acceptance of the Captcha click requirement we routinely buzz through when interacting online. We’ve all been hit with the spam attack and been inundated by robo-callers tying up our time. It started, few remember, back in the analog days with telemarketers and the “Do not call list.” We saw it skyrocket as customer service jobs started being shipped overseas like dollar store trinkets, leaving the Western public wondering who they could trust for service. Americans have accepted the fact that they have to content with bots every time they call a pharmacy, public utility, or online store. It’s not just science fiction anymore.
So there is no surprise that the term ‘bot’ has since weaved itself into pop culture and is being thrown around as an insult toward anyone who voices a dissenting opinion. Having to defend ourselves as noting being a bot is becoming more of a drone than the term itself.
As with any trending slang, it’s difficult to trace the origin. But since the term has only been floating around for a few years in this context, it’s clear that the term has made its affiliation with politics rather naturally, if not intentionally. So while it’s cute and event comical to end our digital conversations with the single moniker, “bot,” to discredit the opposition as non-thinking, inept, or robotic insignificants, we put ourselves in a dangerous position. That position = sycophantic design.
A sycophant is, according to dictionary.com, is a self-serving flatterer or fawning parasite. In other words, when we only hear words that serve our own selfish and innately flawed perspectives, we become parasites — the kind of creature that gains an advantage by living off the useful or proper return of others. In the animal kingdom, parasites live off the flesh of others. Taking the meaning of these words very specifically, we can visualize the destructive path the automatic dismissal of contradictory remarks brings. Throwing up the wall of disregard at the first sign someone might not be 100% on your team is actually more bot-like than the person being labeled due to their opposition.
It’s reminiscent of playground name calling, “You’re a bot!”
“You are a bigger bot.”
“Well, your Momma’s a bot.”
It puts both parties in the hamster wheel and diminishes the work previous generations have done to make equality a reality in our world today. When we consider the futility of continuing to dismiss the ideas of others simply because we are tired of hearing the rhetoric we would rather dismiss, we see why we are in the situation we’re in, deadlocked. I’d love to just defer to Viola Davis’ comments to the character Hilly Holbrook in the movie The Help.“Aren’t you tired?”
Aren’t you tired as a people of warring about the same old tired topics; exchanging control every four years just to fight the same battles? If we could simply listen to the person on the other end of the conversation we might be able to make some forward progress on these issues that have been murmured about in the back of the room for the last 200 years. Instead we are like two fat people rushing the ice cream counter and get trapped in the door frame that neither of us can fit through (nor do we need to try to fit through). This is probably how the rest of the world views the fact that America can’t seem to get past our own nose. We are the only ones who can sink this country, through (self) sabotage. No other country could come close if we simply banded together instead of like a bucket of crabs, continue to bring each other down out of pure jealousy and “talk to the hand” sensibilities.
Every American must implore themselves to put aside individual preservation for the collective preservation of the America we and the rest of the world have benefited from. This beacon of hope for so many that have poured into our borders, legally and illegally, over the centuries, came here with the idea that the America they dreamed about was in fact a reality. But as we continued to tear ourselves down by refusing to hear each other out, we destroy that hope and dream for every generation to come. Put down the hand, and the sign, and pull up a chair at the table — listen, then talk, then listen again. It’s that simple.
I am not a bot — and I approve this message.