March 3, 2021

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The Biggest Scandal On Social Media Right Now Is That President Biden Owns A Peloton

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People have a lot of opinions. Some of them even make sense.

The latest trope? Social media pundits are chattering on about how President Biden (we can say that now, as of midday) owns a Peloton bike.

I have not kept up on Pelotongate myself, but apparently he wants to bring one to the White House and, I don’t know, use it? Do some workouts?

Once again, no politics here. It’s a curious development only because the reaction has a decidedly harmless vibe, even from the people who are against Peloton bikes. (If you missed my piece about the Peloton wife from last year, be sure to check it out.)

I can get on board with harmless vibes. Social media went through a few dark days over the last few years, even to the point where I would only check my own feeds after donning a suit of armor, growing some thick skin, and scrolling really fast at times.

The barbs were out in full force, a stark contrast to the first decade using Twitter to grow my own following, connect with readers, and discuss things in a mostly congenial manner. That was circa 2015, when the concept of social connections in a free zone of civility was helpful.

Then, the gauntlet dropped.

I swear it was around late 2015 when I started seeing a growing volatility. We not only chose to air our grievances, we debated with people endlessly about their grievances. An entire generation of newly minted college graduates, called Gen Z, came into formation during this hateful period of finger-pointing and online jabs.

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Here’s what I’d like to do about that.

Some of you might know about the phantom time hypothesis. It’s a bit fringe. The conspiracy theory suggests that events were wiped out of the history books and the modern calendar altered so that an entire period of time (basically, the years 614–911) didn’t exist. It’s a fascinating theory, although most historians reject it outright.

However, the person who created the phantom time hypothesis might have had a point. Why not do a calendar correction, especially if nothing really occurred that was all that notable? I’d like to propose a similar strategy for the last few years of social media history. The angry trolls, the constant pontification about erroneous viewpoints, the text-based clashes over trivial details — let’s call it the lost years of social media and start over again.

It can start with the Peloton controversy. First of all, there isn’t one. Biden can follow any workout regimen he wants in the White House, and no one should care, not even this person:

I mean, security risk? Doesn’t mesh with his persona? It’s a workout bike. Also, before that, it was a commercial. Not an actual person living in the real world, but an actress who laughed the whole thing off eventually and promptly went back to making more commercials.

The intricate dissection of slight discrepancies must end. I’d like to nominate today as the day we start using social media for healthy discussions, lively but constructive debate, and sharing actual views according to the free speech mandates of our country. 

And maybe stop yelling at each other so much.

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