Friday, February 22, 2013

I've mentioned "Fox Geezer...

...Syndrome" in this blog twice before, here and here, ever since I first read about it here. It must be that time of year, because I feel compelled to draw attention to it again. In case you're not familiar with FGS, here's an excerpt from the original piece in FrumForum (my emphasis):

Used to be I would call my mom and get updated on news from the neighborhood, her garden, the grandchildren, hometown gossip, and so forth. I’ve always been interested in politics, but never had the occasion to talk about them with her. She just doesn’t care.
Or didn’t. I don’t know when it happened, exactly, but she began peppering our conversation with red-hot remarks about President Obama. I would try to engage her, but unless I shared her particular judgment, and her outrage, she apparently thought that I was a dupe or a RINO. Finally I asked my father privately why Mom, who as far as I know never before had a political thought, was so worked up about Obama all the time.
“She’s been like that ever since she started watching Glenn Beck,” Dad said.

A few months later, she roped him into watching Beck, which had the same effect. Even though we’re all conservatives, I found myself having to steer our phone conversations away from politics and current events. It wasn’t that I disagreed with their opinions – though I often did – but rather that I found the vehemence with which they expressed those opinions to be so off-putting.

Then I flew out for a visit, and observed that their television was on all day long, even if no one was watching it. What channel was playing? Fox. Spending a few days in the company of the channel – especially Glenn Beck — it all became clear to me. If Fox was the window through which I saw the wider world, for hours every day, I’d be perpetually pissed off too. 

Back home, I mentioned to a friend over beers how much Fox my mom and dad watched, and how angry they now were about politics.
“Yours too?!” he said. “I’ve noticed the same thing with mine. They weren’t always like this, but since they retired, they’ve gotten into Fox, and you can’t even talk to them anymore without hearing them read the riot act about Obama.”
I started to wonder how common this Fox Geezer Syndrome was. I began to poll conservative friends of my generation who had right-wing parents. At least eight different people – not an Obama voter among them, and one of them actually a George W. Bush political appointee in Washington – told me that yes, they had observed a correlation between the fevered emotionalism of their elderly parents’ politics, and increased exposure to Fox News.

Does this sound familiar to you? Every time I call home, my mother starts in on the president:

"Can you believe Obama is taking a vacation?"

"But, Ma, every president takes vacations..."

 "Did you see that he gave an interview with Hillary?"

"So, what? She's retiring from State and he owes a campaign debt to Bill..."

"They're running the country from Chicago!"


It's at about this point that I plead with my mother to turn the channel. Watch something else, for crying out loud! But it's no use.

Now my mother is the sweetest old lady that you would ever want to meet. But, I swear, Roger Ailes is turning her into a bitter old woman. It's a shame, really.

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