Tag Archives: Instagram

Political Propaganda and the Illinois Tax Amendment of 2020

The Most Boringest Post I’ve Ever Written…

Do you know what I’m going to bitch about here? Taxes. Yes, taxes. I might bitch about social media propaganda as well. Yay, right? Taxes, that thing that is as inevitable as death, the thing that got Al Capone tossed in jail because he avoided paying taxes, that thing that stresses everyone out at the beginning of each year because no one understands the US’s complicated and intricate tax law. Taxes. Yay.

Poor Phyllis. Strange that AARP is supporting the “Tax Hike Amendment”…

I thought I had a good segue lined up here, but I don’t. Anyways, lately on Instagram I keep seeing sponsored posts like this one. Something about Stop the Illinois Tax Hike Amendment. First off, this is unsettling because a few months ago I jumped ship from Facebook to get away from all the political shitposting/propaganda only to be greeted by this on Instagram. Luckily, this does seem isolated and for the most part Instagram is what you’d expect it to be; people posting pictures. Facebook has totally devolved into a political shit-tossing dump and even if it’s useful 10% of the time, the other 90% consists of people posting politically motivated shit in bad-faith arguments to ‘convince others’ about something that’s usually so dumbed down and logically flawed that it’s hard not to comment something picking it apart. Then the winds of shit really start blowing, Rand.

This Instagram image done got me all hyped up and pissy. Why? A bunch of reasons. The use of ‘trigger terms’ to make you think one thing. The poor old lady not wanting to pay more taxes. Something about “new powers to tax anyone at will.” Okay. The first thing about whatever this ad is trying to push is that it sounds too terrifying. No one wants higher taxes, duh, so why wouldn’t we all vote ‘no’ on whatever amendment it’s talking about? Hell, why did the Illinois State even put something so obviously dumb on the ballot for November when it’ll obviously be shot down by 90% of voters?

Oh wait, it’s because this image is flat-out propaganda sponsored by those who don’t want this amendment to pass, likely rich-ass Illinoisans. What does this amendment actually do?

Illinois, the state I reside in, has a simple flat income tax of 4.95%. Everyone is taxed at this rate no matter their income. I must admit it’s nice come tax time — you subtract any deductions, bust out a calculator, multiply your taxable income by 4.95% and, bam, there’s your tax rate — but this flat rate seems strange. If you look at the federal income tax, it’s a graduated tax, meaning the tax rate depends on your income, while our state has a flat rate. According to Ballotpedia, 11 other states have a flat income tax rate. Hmmm, that’s a strangely low number.

Speaking of Ballotpedia, they have a ton of information on this proposed amendment and if you’re a curious Illinois resident, check it out, do some research. It’s also interesting to see how the two sides speak about this amendment. The supporters, mostly democrats, have a PAC named “Vote Yes for Fair Tax,” while the oppositions, republicans and farmers, have PACs named “Say No to More Taxes” and “Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike.” Notice how one side claims ‘fairness’ while the other side claims ‘higher taxes.’ These are two totally different arguments. Will this amendment raise taxes? Maybe. Is it fair? Maybe. But these aren’t mutually exclusive.

Here’s a photo of the actual sample ballot and question regarding the proposed amendment. Surprisingly, it does a good job explaining what the hell the amendment actually does.

This doesn’t sound as bad as I was led to believe…

All this does is eliminate the requirement for a flat tax rate in the Illinois constitution. Is that fair? I don’t know, that depends on your view of taxation, but most other states do it this way. Is it going to raise taxes? Yeah, probably, but you’d also assume people with higher incomes, like really high incomes, are going to be taxed to death by Illinois while lower income households might see a small or moderate decrease. Is this good or bad? Well, it depends on what you think is good and bad.

My point here is that this is a subtle thing being voted on in a few months. It’s not the clear cut and dry “higher taxes!” that whatever PAC plopped this fucking ad up on Instagram is claiming. In my opinion the ‘fairness’ argument is a bit better because most people probably do feel that higher income households should pay more, but whatever. I was going to talk about that here, but that seems like it’d just make this an even messier rant. Maybe another time.

In a way this singular ad is representative of what is wrong with our current politics. An ad, one shitty ad on social media funded by people with money, can make people believe one thing when it is nowhere near true or accurate. They toss out a few trigger terms and bad words like ‘higher’ and ‘taxes’ and people immediately foam at the mouth, forming opinions from biases without even looking deeper than their Instagram/Facebook feed. That’s it. They’ll walk into the polling station, vote ‘no,’ possibly against their own benefit, just because something told them that “voting yes” will mean their taxes will go up. Like Billy Bob making $20k a year is going to be taxed at the same 20% that multimillionaires will be taxed at. No, probably not. But he didn’t do any goddamn research and follows right along with what is being spoon-fed to him by people that actually have reason to oppose the amendment.

My entire point is “Don’t be an ignorant voter.” When you see a political ad on social media or anywhere that claims something fucking ridiculously awful, look into it. Honestly I had no idea what this tax amendment was until I saw a ‘vote no on higher taxes’ ad and looked into it. Was Illinois trying to raise taxes? Was it really called “The Tax Hike Amendment?” No one would be that stupid to raise taxes with an amendment named that. When I found the actual proposal, I found nothing wrong with it. “Hey, wait, this is to eliminate the flat-tax rate. Fuck, I like that idea!” I’ve been telling everyone I know what the amendment does and suggesting they vote ‘yes’ on it. I guess that’s the end of my rant. Just don’t be a fucking troglodyte and do your fucking homework. Things you vote on do have real consequences, so go to the voting place knowing something. Don’t see the word ‘tax’ and vote no just because ‘tax’ is a scary word. Don’t think everyone in the government is trying to pilfer your wallet (but be wary at all times!). Don’t let social media sway your goddamn opinions. Google things, read about them, learn a little about taxes, fucking educate yourself.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Facebook Still Sucks, but Instagram is Strangely Satisfying

Note: Appreciate the amount of links I have in this mess of a post. It was a ton of work. Oh, and the struggle to italicize company names.

I don’t know whether I should bitch about Facebook or praise Instagram, so I’ll probably do both. One social media perspective isn’t complete without another contrasting perspective. My hatred for Facebook translates into a love of Instagram, and my love of Instagram only makes me hate Facebook even more than usual.

One thing should be mentioned: they’re the same fucking thing, and I don’t mean that because they’re both social media. Facebook literally owns Instagram, not in any metaphorical sense either, they actually own Instagram. I don’t know if this is popular knowledge or not; I myself am only aware of this fact because I used to trade stocks and options. One of the main talking points of bullish Facebook investors (besides the company raking in buckets of advertising money) is the fact that they own Instagram. Apparently Instagram is really popular and the irony of people leaving Facebook for Instagram is hilarious. Those hip people who are fed up with the utter trash that is Facebook can happily migrate to Instagram totally unaware of the fact that they haven’t moved anywhere new. It’s like moving from a third story apartment to a second story one in the same building. Moving up in the world, right?!

But Facebook is shit, let’s make that abundantly clear. I love to shit all over the company/site and even published my first ebook by doing so. I had a ton of posts bitching about Facebook and social media in general, wrapped a big bow tie around them, and published them in a compilation. I thought my days of bitching about Facebook were over — move on to bigger and better writing projects — but apparently not. Let’s rip on Facebook again, but in a different way.

It’s taken over by old people.

I don’t think I mean old people in a strictly age way, just the site seems rather stale. While it isn’t overran by old-people and their posts, it is overran by old-people-eque posts. There seems to be nothing of value left. Instead of creating/sharing interesting pics and posts about life, you have people sharing the dumbest, stupidest memes, social justice signaling all over the place, while the literal old people share the “liberals find the flag offensive, let’s show them!” American flag posts along with any other fake news/dietary cancer cures that they come across. Sure there are young people on Facebook (thanks for all the signaling; it sure is interesting that you’re posting sharing deep, meaningful posts to make yourself appear deeper than you are) but the older community is killing the place. I really don’t give a shit about a police dog that is laying on a grave or whatever, and I don’t care to pray for some random person with cancer who probably died four years ago while everyone is unaware of the fact. It’s just a mess and the mess overrides any joy I get out of the place. Facebook for me is a place to mindlessly scroll at 2 a.m. when I want to feel a little more cynical about everything.

The only person to share shit like this is someone who has just went through a shitty relationship and is trying to tell themself that they’re really fine and all of that shit. Signaling. Denial. Etc.

It’s also complicated to use. Not really, but it isn’t simple either; there are options everywhere. Every little thing is a button that does something unique. Tagging, captioning, privacy settings, sharing, sharing to news feed, sharing to story, pic uploading, video uploading, galleries, notifications, email and text notifications, react emojis, .gifs, personal information (music, movies, work, sports teams, etc.), phone numbers, ‘like’ or ‘follow’?, featured photos, and the list surely goes on. That’s only involving personal pages too; the Facebook ecosystem goes deeper. Much deeper. There’s a messenger and all the social anxiety that comes with messaging a person on Facebook because you don’t have their actual number and is that, like, a weird thing to do socially or is it okay? Then there’s Messenger Stories: what are you supposed to use that for? There’s a marketplace, business pages, groups, games, and so on. Oh, and you can make your own Facebook pages too if you’re a big fat-cat entrepreneur like myself. (Gimme a ‘like’ and ‘follow’ guys!) These pages are their own can of worms to deal with as I’m sure you can imagine. Luckily I don’t know of many other things because fuck that, I’m not trying to do everything Facebook has to offer. For me it’s mostly a place to spam links to blogs/writings.

Which leads me in a roundabout way to Instagram; it’s another market to get my writings out there. I don’t even know how you market a blog/story/author on Instagram (it’s all pictures, right? How do you market writing with pictures?) but figured I’d give it a shot. Ya know, take a shitty and abstract picture and plop some deep, insightful text on it and, bam, done. Sounds easy enough to YOLO an Instagram account.

I also have a few friends who are on there. One guy is a big inspiration; he makes an artform out of Instagram and I’ve been blatantly copying his technique. He’s a master at taking these awful, shitty, low-quality pictures, filtering the shit out of them, and writing what is basically poetry for captions. And they’re great! It’s a raw, no-bullshit form of art that is genius even given the derivativeness that is inherently Instagram. Just for the hell of it, I’ll toss a link to him. I think it’d be hilarious if he ends up with a bunch of followers because of this stupid blog post. And I’m not going to say a word to him about it either. So please follow leftclickmicrocosm_ on Instagram. Please make this happen.

I finally made an account and started my own version of posting low-quality bullshit with deep captions. A pic of a vape cloud along with a caption about two souls dancing. A blurry 757 flying at night. Corporate artwork with a cold and cruel caption. I’ll link a few below.

Wow, Instagram pics look amazing on a blog!

What’s strange is how weary I was to getting into another social media sphere to market my writings. It’s exhausting. Was I really going to write a shitty blog post in 50 minutes and then spend just as long marketing it on social media? Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Wattpad, and Instagram? That’s a lot of work. And I was terrified that I’d be sucked in by Instagram the same way Facebook and heroin are known to do. The constant chase of social popularity and approval, farming for ‘likes’ and whatnot. I didn’t want any part of it.

There is something refreshing about starting anew and Instagram is no different. You get a blank slate. You get to learn. You get to experiment. Since you’re starting from nothing, you also have nothing to prove. It’s been great! I’ve been posting these shitty, heavily filtered and ‘artistic’ images just for the fun of it. I don’t care if something doesn’t get as much feedback as other more popular pics; it’s enjoyable enough just to spam total bullshit without catering to some overarching goal. In this aspect I’ve failed; I haven’t marketed my writings at all on Instagram, totally missing the point of what I was intending to do in the first place. But it’s okay.

I also love how Insta‘s UI seems ‘simpler’ than Facebook‘s. The menu (if you can call it a menu) isn’t littered with total trash. The app is very minimalistic with only a few buttons to actually click. The filter/editing part is simply clicking buttons and moving sliders until you find the look you want. You slide things around until your picture looks delightfully artistic with a quality similar to an indie, low-fi garage album. Feedback and static in visual form. Slap on a flowery caption and you’re good to go.

Contrived deepness!

I know the site is kinda trash with influencers and people taking selfie after selfie in exotic locations, totally gaming the system trying to make their lives look idyllic. In some ways I think this is the surface-level Instagram sort of how bullshit news stories and stupid memes are the surface-level of Facebook. But there is potential for artistic expression if you allow it; if you stop trying to play the game that everyone else is playing. Because it’s Instagram and it’s what you do. Throughout my Instagram ‘career’ I’m going to attempt to hold onto this mindset and only do whatever random shit I want to do (while lovingly stealing others’ good ideas obviously) and not worrying too much about playing the social media game. But a week into it? I love it. It stomps the fuck out of Facebook. It’s easy, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I find myself not taking it — or myself — too seriously either.

In case all that shit above wasn’t enough, here’s a proper link. Follow me for my silly art pictures!