Rachel Weisz (Evelyn) : "You know, nasty little fellows such as yourself always get their comeuppance."
Kevin J. O'Connor (Beni): "They do?"
-- The Mummy 1999
Social media generally shovel up a lot of shiny garbage disguised as treasure. Indeed, I have a keen grasp of the obvious, but I'm acclimating quickly after swearing off print newspapers (with the exception of Willamette Week and the Portland Mercury).
Buzzfeed and Zimbio quizzes and celebrity YouTube clips have become as run-of-the-mill as neighborhood traffic signs. However, one can sometimes encounter content that feels like you just stuck your pinky into the socket by the blender.
That happened to me Monday afternoon.
So, why the quote from The Mummy?
It has more to do with one particular "nasty little fellow getting his comeuppance" than any mythical creature.
I'll still give you a monster reference. Conserva-zombie-slash-U.S. Senator Ted Cruz opened his yap again -- this time on Facebook.
Not huge -- but this time a major miscalculation on his part. Cruz asked America, and I'm paraphrasing, "...do you feel better-off four years after ratification of Obamacare?" Asking for and expecting a simple yes or no answer, he missed the mark and opened the barn door to an angry horde of trolls, this author included.
Pulitzer Prize-winning LA Times writer Michael Hiltzik noticed. Writing in the Business section of his paper he said, "It's probably fair to say that [Cruz] didn't expect the tsunami of 'YES' votes that have shown up on the page among the 47,000 that Facebook says have been posted."
And, ohh, the burning shame that came after!
On Fox and Friends, Steve Doocy, et.al., gave the Senator an earful (a shock to those of us who count ourselves among the show's detractors) when Cruz expressed the heretofore kosher conservative desire to kill the Affordable Care Act.
The questions certainly sounded "liberal" and had a certain sting -- did the senator think it wise to swim against popular opinion when so many people said they wanted to keep huge swaths of the law, including the end to pre-existing conditions and the option to keep one's children on a parental policy well into that child's 20s?
The non-answers that followed were unexpected entertainment in an unlikely place.
Also, photos of crowds waiting to sign up on deadline day probably delivered another Batman-esque "Biff!" and "Bop!" to Cruz's stumble. Many Americans (at least a million) waited until the last, last, last minute to sign-up, pushing the program's final number over the 7 million mark -- and all for a program Cruz said obviously didn't work.
But the part that grabbed the jaded eye of some critics was just how strong a response the Senator received.
Social media did something astounding; it gave regular people a chance to directly and publicly tell Mr. Cruz what they think of the policy and what they think of him personally -- and they took full advantage of it.
The last time this author checked, neither Cruz nor his staff had done any erasing and the remarks just kept pouring in. Despite the conservative media echo-chamber, people like the producers of Fox News couldn't ignore it.
The headlines it generated underlined -- in bold -- the fact thousands of people needed the law to pass. All one had to do? Visit the Cruz page and read a handful of the personal and heart-wrenching stories that will be ignored at the Senator's peril.
It also gave his critics a chance to zing him on what one man described as Cruz's "asshattery."
In the end, Facebook may have grayed in both age and the age of it's users, but it still shows promise as a technology that may one day make actual, classical democracy something manageable and realistic if politicians will actually take that feedback as valid. Whether that would help or hinder representative government remains a valid question.
For now, common sense would dictate all the feedback will probably end up in an electronic garbage can with the rest of the day's social media "treasure." This time, much of what glitters is gold and maybe a sign of where social media will end up taking us.
Turning a deaf ear on those voices would equal a direct insult to all those voters and public opinion on the Senator's part which may come back to bite him in the posterior in the next few years.
Gloat finished, and yes, you might guess schadenfreude will bring on bad karma, but sometimes it feels so good!
Here's video of the television encounter where Cruz gets it wrong: