I remember a kinder, simpler time.
A time when our Facebook feeds were all full of photos of our friends’ children, dogs and the sandwich they ate for lunch. A glorious age of slow-cooker recipes (did someone say Mississippi pot roast?) and Throwback Thursday pictures. A time when the most egregious sins you could commit on the Book of Face were posting what your CrossFit WOD was (still trying to figure out what a burpee is), how far your run was that day (7 miles, really?) or photos of you sunbathing in the Dominican Republic while the rest of the world labored away under fluorescent lights.
Your mom commenting on absolutely every post you make seems almost cute now, precious even. Ohhhh, those were the days. Hell, I even miss being “friended” by old chums just so they could hit me up to purchase some of their Rodan+Fields, Beautycounter, stella & dot and/or Advocare. (I knew I should have gotten that 10 Day Herbal Cleanse! Dang it!) Calgon, take me back to the Facebook days when I was invited to parties so I could be pumped full of red wine just so I would buy things I truly did not need! Whaaaaa!
Leading up to the election, the nastiness and viciousness among “friends” on Facebook had gotten pretty bad. But after Donald Trump’s surprise victory last week it reached a new low. In addition to the name-calling, there was a toxic emotional stew simmering on page after page, chock full of hearty chunks of fear, depression, hysteria, anxiety, gloating, mourning, you name it. I felt like crushing up a Xanax and wiping it on my computer screen, but I don’t think it would have helped. But it was really starting to stress me out.
So I just deactivated my account. And it has been a much better week. I will admit I have peeked in a couple of times to see if it was safe to get back in the water, but quickly found it wasn’t.
I have friends who really enjoy “debating” issues like this on Facebook and who feel they can effect whatever sort of change they want to see by posting their thoughts, which they know will certainly elicit a negative response from some.
Some people find it cathartic and that is their choice. But I just find it depressing. Mainly because while you might be able to sway someone’s opinion about a restaurant you give a crap review to, I have yet to see anyone’s mind changed about politics, EVER. So it just becomes an arena filled with infinite daises of individuals screaming but not really listening to one another — well, except for people they agree with.
Some of my friends have told me they have had productive “conversations” in comment threads that have made them feel better about our divided land and where we are headed. But I have seen less of that and more of people just calling each other names, or people on the “same side” whipping each other into an absolute panic.
And it probably just bothers me more than it should. Who cares if two people I haven’t talked to in 20 years (and who probably haven’t talked to each other for that same amount of time) just called each other every name in the book and then just told each other to F off. But I have to admit I watched some of these trainwreck-type exchanges like they were the next episode of “Star Wars” (Where’s my popcorn?). And I felt dirty and sad after it, so I had to step away.
Only time will tell how this new administration will govern. And I hope that, for the sake of this great land, half of the country will be pleasantly surprised and the other half can say, “See, I told you so.” Because what’s the alternative? Hoping for nuclear war? Yeah, that has never been particularly high on my wish list either.
But in the meantime there are things we can do to bring our country and our communities back together, and if we are more united on that front, we will be more powerful and can absolutely demand the kind of government we want and deserve.
Yes, there are horrible people in the world who are going to say and do horrible things. But they were horrible people long before this election. The vast majority of Americans are not like this, no matter who they voted for. And we have to remind those horrible a-holes in the minority that we aren’t going to tolerate their a-holery.
And we can’t just write off everyone who voted for the person we didn’t vote for as evil or ignorant or whatever name you want to call them. Try to listen and understand the issues that led them to their decision. I bet in most cases it’s far less nefarious and way more complicated than we think. We often live in our own little bubbles, which makes it hard to understand what other people may be going through, so we unfairly label them as something they are not because it is just easier.
I know many smart and kind people who voted for both candidates. And that does give me hope that we are far less divided than we think.
There are always going to be fundamental differences between the “left” and the “right.” It has been that way for a very long time and that’s OK — that’s what this country is about. And yes, we all can still fight for the ideals we believe in. We absolutely should! But we can’t forget there is common ground somewhere between those two poles. We just have to be willing to look for it and find it rather than retreating to our own “sides.” And that is what we have been doing for far too long.
I am hopeful that as we all sit around our Thanksgiving tables in a couple of weeks (probably across the table from someone we unfollowed on Facebook months ago) we look for the ties that bind us and for goodness in one another, and be more understanding of each other’s perspective.
There is still so much to be thankful for.