There are an innumerable amount of unhealthy activities that one can do on social media, and I frequently do all of them, frequently at the same time. So it shouldn’t be taken lightly when I say that my most favorite––and most damaging––activity is reading the replies to any post by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. No matter what the actual post is, it can be guaranteed that the replies will be a series of low resolution memes that are almost exclusively posted by people who believe Antifa is the secret reason they’re not allowed to see their kids anymore.
My favorite of these memes (there’s only 16 total, they all use the same three pictures of the congresswoman, sometimes feature Peter Griffin explaining the joke at the bottom, and all kill your brain cells) are the ones that claim that Ocasio-Cortez is inherently bad because she used to be a working-class bartender before getting elected to office while ironically also complaining about liberal elites. These are the cute little things that turn most social media networks like Facebook into a certified hellsite.
While Facebook relevance to younger generations has dwindled to helping remind you what birthdays you forgot and letting you secretly read the comments from your mom’s friends hyping you up in incomprehensibly large photo albums, it has unfortunately had devastating effects on our democracy at it slowly morphed into the primary source of news for older folks. Around 2011 Facebook started being used as a venue for your uncle to repost irrefutable proof that Obama was actually the Kenyan anti-Christ. Now this type of posting has now turned into actual disinformation campaigns affecting hundreds of thousands of people at a single time, all because Facebook never took the initial problem seriously enough since they were too busy amassing all your private data in order to market hyper-specific shirts declaring that you were born in July and are not to be messed with.
The entire video of AOC using her five minutes to grill Zuckerberg on a variety of different problems plaguing Facebook is absolutely worth watching. She opens on asking Zuckerberg when he became aware of the Cambridge Analytica, who were able to harvest the raw data on 87 million in order to persuade them to vote for Trump, which Zuckerberg couldn’t recall. She moved on, posing Zuckerberg with a serious of hypotheticals that exposed the flaws in the websites policy of not requiring that political ads be truthful, to which Zuckerberg was also unable to answer. When AOC concluded by asking Zuckerberg if white-supremacist tied organizations such as the Daily Caller met his standard for a verified fact-checker, Zuckerberg was once again unable to give a straight answer.
The intense questioning went viral, amassing millions of views on a variety of different platforms. The reason is clear: we’re not used to seeing our politicians this effective at cutting through BS and raising issues that are relevant to common Americans. This isn’t the first time AOC had turned congressional questioning into an opportunity to successfully stand up to the status-quo, asking an Exxon Mobil researcher earlier that very same day how much the company knew about climate change as they fought to cover it up.
The reason for AOC’s success is rooted in her anger, anger that she and millions of other working-class Americans feel everyday towards large corporations that ship their jobs overseas, cut their pay and fire them when they press a sexual harassment claim, overcharge for basic products and services, or pump their relatives with hateful propaganda; all in the interest of squeezing a couple more dollars of profit. AOC’s background as a bartender who fought her way into one of the most powerful elected positions in the country enabled her with the perspective that makes her so damn good at her job, and this country would be magnitudes better off if all our elected representatives had lived with that perspective as well.