Oh. My. GOD. Facebook is ruining my life! (not really) I am constantly checking it for news and updates and (apparently) reasons to get my blood pressure going… It’s as though, in my new socially-isolated small town existence, I’ve substituted “Likes” and political arguments for the genuine human connection I — in my hermit-like state — didn’t realize I so truly needed.
But what’s a girl (and new mom) to do?
This new town of ours is smack dab in the middle of a very red state, is so small there isn’t even a movie theater, and I — in my “late 30’s” — have never been particularly good at meeting people anyway…
But this election!
It has driven me to heartache and tears, continued frustration, and an abject feeling of hopeless-helplessnes that I loathe with the very fiber of my being.
And some of my less-political or right-leaning friends probably think I’m crazy for getting so worked up about politics, but isn’t that part of the malfunction that’s led us here in the first place? The American Apathy: consumption-obsessed, entertainment-gobbling, unimpressed-with-politics citizen who, as long as their internet isn’t too slow, has been content to let our politicians do as they please behind the big Democracy curtain?
For a long damn time, the attitude has been “They just do what they want anyway, and nothing ever changes”, with any recognition that change only happens when the electorate gets involved – and yuck, who wants to, like, call people or write letters or (worse yet) go to a freakin’ town-council meeting?! So instead, we grumble along, distracted by the latest iPhone and reality TV.
At least, that’s how it feels to me. I’ve not been particularly politically engaged before this election. Sure, I signed a few petitions and wrote a letter to a Congressman or two, but I was mostly
content pre-occupied with trying to figure out why my career wasn’t where I wanted it to be, what I might be able to do to get it there eventually, and trying to like, live my life, in the meantime…
But here I am.
Trying to do something about it all…
And instead of being productive – like, calling my reps every time I see them gearing up for something grossly offensive – I post another article on FB with some frustrated comment, and stew all day about how ineffective I feel.
So I’m quitting… sort of… well…
What I’m really going to try to do is turn my FB time way down, and instead focus on articulating my thoughts here or in my creative works as best I can. (Did I mention I have an infant? He’s one of the reasons I’m reading news sites and FB so often instead of making art and spinning words like I used to.) I used to keep an almost-daily blog, and I really miss it, so the thought of coming back to it is grand. I just hope I find time (or more aptly, am able to make time) to track my thoughts here – I’ve had this blog for a few years now, and you can count the number of posts on two hands :-/
But I think that setting an intention to write more and rant less (on FB at least) is a good start.
The last thing I’d like to say about FB today is that many of my posts and discussions up till recently were shared in the genuine interest of connecting with my friends of differing views. I read a lot of the things my friends post, even when I know I disagree with them, and I hoped that those friends would perhaps do the same – and maybe they did, I can’t really know. I engaged with some of my friends with whom I disagreed in the interest of having a genuine conversation about the issues at hand, and I learned a lot from those discussions, even when they went absolutely nowhere (which was most of the time). I completely believe that having discussions with people who are different than us is vital, and I appreciate every single person who was willing to talk about the issues and their POV’s with me.
I hope we keep talking.
But I also feel that my experiment with social-media debate has come to a disappointing close. The divide between “sides” (the fact that we are all taking sides at all, in this democratic nation, is incredibly unfortunate) feels too sharp, jagged, and wound-ish to overcome through mere discussion, and I’m afraid my own in-the-interest-of-connection has sputtered to a sour place of “WTF, People?!”
I think a lot of things are going to have to happen before we all start listening and healing together – things like making news media accountable for spreading falsehoods or using slant to serve their corporate interests; things like fighting back against the top 1% who are hell-bent on keeping us divided, because divided people are easier to rule; things like making incredible art/reaching out through art in order to help build empathy in communities that are isolated and unsympathetic to the “Other”— but I have hope that we will get there, and that we will get there together, and I’m going to try my best to be part of the healing.