Something was off. On Friday, in the early hours of the morning, I noticed that one of my posts on X – previously Twitter – was getting an unusual amount of attention, but that there was a peculiar twist – most of the engagement came in the form of comments from American conservatives, who seemed incredibly displeased with me for some reason.
Now, had they stopped at expressing views that opposed the one I conveyed in the original post, I would’ve brushed it off as normal social media interaction. My message was asking for a separation of religious beliefs and politics, I was calling for secularism. It made sense that people who hold religious beliefs would not be happy with it and would try to antagonize me on the internet. Fair. Dissenting views. Scorned nests of trolls, even. But then this happened.
Someone said I “should leave Americans to choose their leaders“. It baffled me. “When did I interfere?”, I asked, a little confused but mainly amused by the accusation. “You did it. Fox News has an article and your tweet is in there”, came the reply. I genuinely thought this person was trolling, so I shared a string of laughing emojis. But then… I read the bit again… Could this person be sharing the reason why so many Americans woke up and decided to hate me – the online type of hate – on this particular day? I had other things to take care of, so I decided not to investigate, and instead just asked the person to share the link, if they have one.
That didn’t happen, as they went offline – it was nighttime in the United States-, but some time later, I still couldn’t shake off the feeling that there might be some truth to their post. After all, the nasty replies kept coming in. And the psalms, geez, the psalms. And the “I will pray for you”, together with “you will burn in hell” and “you’re a witch”. All Christian messages. The intense kind.
“Fine”, I said to myself, “I’ll give this nonsense 10 seconds of my time and look it up. If it’s an article, it should pop up. If it’s a screenshot in a video, I won’t bother trying to figure it out”. Honestly, I thought that the most likely scenario was that they compiled some tweets and embedded them somewhere on the internet.
Tried the most obvious search, “lucia grosaru site:foxnews.com”. And bingo, I found the damn thing. As I clicked, I was thinking to myself “This is a little odd. They seem to properly quote me in an article about the new House Speaker. Why? I said nothing about him directly.”
Click. Not reading. Searched my name again. Bingo, again.
“For fuck’s sake…”, to myself. It was a full quote.
“Psychologist Lucia Grosaru posted, “When a country is ruled based on religious principles, you get the extremism that managed to survive through the millennia. Irrational beliefs should not inspire social policies. Mythology is to be studied (beautiful field) but has no active place in modern societies.”
She also asked, “What if some politician somewhere would start proposing we all go by Apollo’s principles? It’s the same for any other religion that made it to this day.“
And then the embedded tweet.
But why? Why in an article about the US House Speaker? Maybe they’re just putting together international opinions about the topic. That would explain it, I thought.
So I had to read the thing, it turns out. Fine.
Started from the beginning.
Headline: “New House Speaker Mike Johnson’s appeal to ‘God,’ ‘the Bible’ on House floor sparks debate online”.
OK, a little sensationalized, but fine.
Tagline: “While conservatives praised Johnson’s religiosity, one leftist declared, ‘Irrational beliefs should not inspire social policies’.
That’s what I said. I’m the “one leftist”. What?
I started laughing and thought to myself, “Wow, they are stupid”.
Guy who wrote the article? The name rang no bell. I’ll leave it here for SEO purposes – Gabriel Hays. Face unknown to me from X/Twitter or from anywhere else.
It was just a little lazy article that relied on social media posts to put together “online content” that gets pushed as news.
But since this is Fox News, the political divide, bias, and agenda shined through it. How else would it have made it to publication?
Intro on Mike Johnson’s election as Speaker of the House, and then the guy went straight to presenting the opinions of “conservatives” versus “leftists”. It’s Fox News, so what this means is “conservatives good”, “leftists bad”.
And I was the “one leftist”.
“Conservative X users seemed elated at the new speaker’s piety.” – Let me roll my eyes in writing. Three views from conservatives and the attached tweets – I’ll still call them tweets at times, it is what it is.
The quoted individuals were “Conservative digital strategist Greg Price“, “The Blaze host Steve Deace“, and “Influential Christian conservative leader Bob Vander Plaats“.
“However, leftists saw Johnson’s appeal to prayer as a bad omen.”
That was his bridge to the segment where my tweet lied. It made no sense to me because I thought that nothing from this bit matched me or my opinion.
Only two posts were presented for the “leftists” side.
“Syracuse Law lecturer David Cay Johnson” and “Psychologist Lucia Grosaru“.
Can you tell, when looking at these five individuals, that one is not like the others?
OK, I am the only woman on the list, that is the first thing. But the most significant part for me is that I am the only one who’s not American. My post is public so yes, anyone can quote, share, and comment on it. That is not my problem. I find it odd though because the entire article is about American politics, and seems to be written primarily for Americans, not for an international audience, even if the content is available worldwide.
Wouldn’t it make more sense and lend itself better to the American “left vs. right” context, to quote an American liberal? I mean, you only included two views from that side anyway.
Another issue I have with being quoted in this article is that this guy slapped the “leftist” label in relation to my name. That is simply not true. Most of my views are liberal, yes, but I also agree with many elements of conservative thinking and policies.
I am Romanian, and where I live, we have nuance when it comes to political parties, the “left” and “right” descriptors have lost most of their meaning here, for a while now. I find it misleading to apply American stencils to individuals who live outside of that context.
Also, my tweet wasn’t even referring to Johnson directly. My post was a general comment regarding religion and politics, and it addressed Price’s tweet, which ended with “You don’t see too many politicians these days that talk about faith like this.“
Again, my comment was about secularism, not the US House Speaker. His speech was an example, not the core or reason of my message. The other user’s post was what I commented on.
The Fox News Digital associate editor who wrote – read “put together” – this article threw my name in a context where my view was not relevant. And it sent many angry people my way. No worries, I can deal with that and it also makes for good engagement rates online, but that’s not the main point. The point is that this guy’s reckless writing ends up being misinformation. He presented to the American public a view that was not what he claimed it was. And the Fox News public ate that up in the same manner he did – without as much as a Google search.
My reason for writing this post here is not to complain about a so-called journalist’s poor work ethic and the social media impact his 10-minute work session had on me. That’s peanuts. The context that emerged has several elements worth considering though, because we see them every day and they end up affecting our social environment for the worse.
Here’s what I noticed:
- Confirmation Bias. The individual who wrote the article was searching for “leftists” to quote in the piece. So he just treated everyone who seemed to oppose Johnson and his supporters as “leftists”. When he saw my tweet, he likely thought “Found one!”. This is why he may have also thought that I am American.
- Authority Bias. My M.A. title mention and the 8$ blue badge next to my name must’ve helped his decision to choose me over others. But in this case, my view was good, but yet not relevant to his research.
- Emotional Reasoning. “It feels like the attitude of a leftist, so this must be a leftist”.
- Labeling. Please note that the author used “conservatives” and “leftists”, not “liberals”. This caused readers to immediately react to the label this guy slapped next to my name, not to my actual message. It also made some of them attribute to me views that they usually match with “leftists” but which I actually do not hold – like gender ideology.
- Superficiality. The guy didn’t care about this piece as much as to Google the names of his five sources. And he would only have to search for my name because the others had their location in the bio or one could somehow infer it from their place of work or platform.
- Recklessness. The author didn’t care about the possible consequences of his actions. It is obvious that the Fox News audience will chase “leftists”. He put my name there without even thinking if it belonged.
- No journalistic standards. Someone must’ve approved the article. No one cared how this guy constructed his argument.
- Mob behavior. The Fox News audience was easily unleashed toward a perceived opponent with a single, misplaced quote. That’s what these people do – get together and pile on whoever they consider “the other”. No questions asked.
- No interest in facts, truth, or common sense. Fox News, their editors, their audience. None of them gave a damn about the actual information they were publishing or reacting to. Just troll for the sake of trolling.
- The Propaganda Machine. Fox News and other propaganda machines use small pawns, such as the guy who wrote this article for them, someone willing to do their bidding, to keep their blood-thirsty crowds engaged and connected to “the cause”. Strength in numbers.
Ultimately, do I think the “journalist” who wrote this piece had the intention to harm or manipulate anyone? No. He seems too young and ill-equipped to even attempt that. I am sure that what he wanted to achieve was a balanced presentation of reactions to Johnson’s election, he likely wanted to show both sides and work as little as possible in the process. But this is the exact type of pawns propaganda machines find useful – those willing to do their bidding while asking no questions about the mission or direction of the mechanism.
The article ends with the text segment I shared at the beginning of this post and the embedded tweet.
No outro, no conclusion, no anything.
The online effect diminished over the next couple of days but I am sure this is not the last time something like this will happen to me and to many others as well.
In the end, this behavior from huge news platforms will continue for as long as misinformation and bad journalism will be rewarded or even demanded by their audiences. Audiences who can discern between manipulation and fair reporting have the power to change the international news media environment.
At the same time, those affected by fake news or any other misleading presentations of themselves in the media can benefit from learning how to be more assertive and how to not allow these episodes to significantly affect them at a psychological level. Sure, vent online, and reply, even in a more aggressive manner at times, but don’t let this erode the way you see yourself and how you relate to your values.
P.S. You can check out my free online courses that address some of these subjects.