The Arapahoe Pinnacle

Congress vs The Relentless March of Time

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Kera Morris, Reporter

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For two days last week Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, underwent a brutal ego-and-soul crushing inquiry from the sharpest minds America has to offer: our Congress, whose keen understanding of the Internet age and the mechanisms by which social media operate lead them to ask questions of astonishing clarity—Americans need no longer remain mystified by the dark secrets of free, voluntarily used platforms and apps that have now been brought to light.  
Of course, precisely none of the previous paragraph is accurate. Senators and Representatives together spent approximately ten hours last week voluntarily showing Millennials and the iGeneration that their elected officials do not even slightly understand the technology and media that have dominated the social landscape longer than many up-and-coming voters have been alive.  
This, in an era where there’s little doubt that social media, more than anything else, wins political races. 

When Senator Nelson stood up bravely to ask Mr. Zuckerberg why, when he posts about chocolate, does he gets ads about chocolate… there is a zero percent chance that Senator’s grandchildren did not facepalm, and deny to at least one friend that they are related to the guy. Perhaps they questioned their heritage and plaintively asked their parents once again if they were adopted. 
For years now, this has been a running joke: old folks don’t get social media, they don’t understand the facebooking and twittering and all that newfangled nonsense. There are multiple groups dedicated to the typically light-hearted fun on Facebook, in fact–a hugely popular group called PLEASE SHOW TO JIM!! HA!! HA!!  is on the kinder, gentler side of Facebook. They gently poke fun at the people who visit Walmart’s page to repeatedly ask the price of applesauce or inquire on Applebee’s page as to where their nephew is—to which Applebee’s will indeed respond, explaining they have over 1,900 locations.
Image via screenshot from Please Show To Jim
The Senators and Representatives of this unintentionally hilarious sideshow are the parents and grandparents we have all been forced to explain Instagram to, and whose computers we have all had to clean up because they cannot stop themselves from clicking the links to cruises they’ve won and downloading more toolbars.  
They’re the people keeping Nigerian princes in power.  
Image via Simpsonswiki
A key difference between Congress and Nana is that few of us love our representatives unconditionally, and while breathtaking ignorance isn’t a good look on anyone, it’s an especially unfortunate one on some of the most powerful people in the country.  
Ostensibly, the hearing was held for completely reasonable questioning. The Cambridge Analytica scandal deserves attention (but won’t be covered in this particular article, so here are a few informative articles to bring people up to speed), and the fact that our elections have been and can be literally altered by entities like Facebook is grim information that will ultimately fill innumerable texts, be taught in college courses and undergo more dissection than a university laboratory’s rat supply.  
These highly important topics were often brushed up against as representatives struggled to figure out how to ask the correct questions. So very many of them failed that there are now countless videos floating around on the internet showing inane question after insipid question—one cannot help but be impressed in a dark way when someone holding the reins of political power in the United States strings together such an incomprehensible question that the man being queried cannot parse it.  

Not because he’s prevaricating, not because he’s hem-hawing to buy time. But because the question is so indecipherable or answers itself so thoroughly that we could all feel waves of secondhand embarrassment wafting through the TV or computer screen. 

Congressmembers bumbling consistently brought to mind the phrase ‘you’re not even wrong,’ which is “applied to someone who tries to make a point in a discussion but ends up demonstrating that they do not even understand the discussion itself.”
Let’s not forget that many of these are the same national representatives who have gleefully signed away the privacy rights of citizens consistently over the years. Just last year, a GOP-lead Congress themselves paved the road for internet providers to sell your information, wiping away Obama-era protections.  
Nevermind the fact that since 2001 at minimum, any suggestion that we as American citizens have an inherent right to privacy is a sick joke. The US PATRIOT Act ushered us into an era where we’ve all come to expect that anything we say over the phone, over email, or on social media is available for perusal. Every Congress that’s sat since then has passed ever more robust versions of the Act.  
That Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) last week elected to complain that he saw ads for chocolate… That Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) asked, in all seriousness, how a free platform made money… that Representative Debbie Dingle (MI-12) gish-galloped questions and clearly felt some sort of coup occurred… that Ted Cruz (R-TX) decided the hearing was an opportunity to whine about a Chic-fil-A appreciation fan page that had come down… all these things were funny until what they meant dawned. 
Make no mistake. Facebook isn’t ‘on our side,’ and no one reasonable (or at least unaffiliated) will ever try to suggest they are. Facebook and the multitudes of apps it’s absorbed are a massive conglomerate and when you’re using a range of free platforms to connect with friends and family scattered all over the globe, yeah–that means something is being had from you. This is not a complex line of reasoning.  
Image via AZ Quotes
Yes, the ads can be annoying. Because they are in fact targeted, Facebook knows for sure I want those amazing boots and they’re going to show them to me until I buy the damn things.  
But also no mistake: the majority of the sitting government is not on our side. It’s brimming with politicians who are as honest as any politician can be: they’re the kind that stay bought. Let’s not pretend something was achieved by last week’s Zuckerberg hearing.  
The key thing we learned is that if there are no stupid questions, then there sure are a lot of inquisitive idiots.  
It was a nationally embarrassing event, but I feel we’ve become rather accustomed to that. 

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It’s getting exhausting, right?

With any luck this straw alongside the many, many horrors visited upon our country since 2017 kicked off will help break the camel’s back for the largest voting bloc in the nation, and get Millennials out to the polls… alongside an increasingly angry, increasingly voting-age iGeneration 

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