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An argument about federal aid: Online clash and offline reality

Posted at 7:18 PM, Jul 27, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY -- With federal assistance about to run out, more than 80,000 Utahns will soon see $600 less in their weekly unemployment checks by the end of this week.

We decided to ask about it on Facebook. The question:

“Have you been relying on these payments?”

For a few minutes, the answers followed a clear theme:

“Get a job.”

Some messages were longer with strong arguments: A lot of places are hiring. $600 extra sounds cushy for staying home, etc.

It was a pretty succinct representation of one side of the national debate.

A woman named Angelena Forsgren was the first person to log on and say that she had relied on the program.

She touched some nerves in the way she said it.

"Those of us who have real, good paying jobs are not going to leave those jobs for a temporary side gig that pays WAY less just to avoid government help,” Forsgren wrote in part of her post.

A lot of her fellow Facebookers thought that sounded a little arrogant…like she needed the right job while some might be satisfied with any job.

“You truly think a little too highly of yourself,” wrote one.

Another called her “choice to not work” “selfish.”

We decided to contact Forsgren, and the story above will give you a sense of how an online conversation doesn’t really address the offline reality.