George Carlin once said, “Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders.” This appears to include clickbait nonsense posts like Buzzfeed’s now famous animated GIF posts in which the site, for example, explains Middle East turmoil using Jurassic Park GIFs (not making that up). These posts are so popular and universally recognizable that politicians, at least the Republican ones, have begun communicating in the same nonsensical, superficial way, as if politics wasn’t superficial and nonsensical enough.
You might recall how Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) posted an article slamming President Obama’s free community college proposal using silly pop culture GIFs, just like a Buzzfeed article. As I wrote at the time, when I first spotted the tweet linking to the post, I thought Boehner’s Twitter feed had been hacked. Surely the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives wouldn’t stoop to posting a Buzzfeed-style list of Taylor Swift GIFs.
But he did. And the discourse died a little that day.
Today, too. The House Judiciary Committee published a Buzzfeed knock-off post on Wednesday, this time using various GIFs to illustrate why Obama’s executive order on immigration is wrong. So, yes, fantastic idea: take a very complicated issue impacting upwards of 12 million people in this country (if not more, if you count businesses that rely on undocumented workers) and distill all of it down to animated GIFs of The Office, The Little Mermaid and Britney Spears.
That’s right, the committee tasked as the “lawyer” for half of the legislative branch of the federal government; the committee that has an active role in the impeachment proceedings — is playing grabass by ripping off one of the least serious websites on the internet and using it to explain a very serious issue — some consider the immigration issue to be a crisis. So, bring on the silly GIFs! By the way, the GIFs in the Judiciary post aren’t even germane to the text that comes before it. They’re just random GIFs with no bearing on what’s being said. In other words, it’s not only a stupid idea, but it’s not even executed well.
As Carlin said, it’s not as if our leaders are independently dabbling in clickbait silliness. They’re doing it because too many of us seem to love that stuff. To be sure, it’s okay for members of Congress to have a little fun, and surely it’s okay for us to occasionally check out a Buzzfeed meme. However, Congress shouldn’t be crossing the streams like this. Have some dignity. Have some decorum. And leave the animated GIFs to Buzzfeed where this crapola belongs.