Like many of us, I’ve been consumed by all things politics, as evidenced by my posts here and on Facebook. I make no apologies for this. It’s part of who I am and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon.
Here’s another thing I’m not apologizing for: Unfollowing people on Facebook during this election season.
My politics are no secret. Most people know where I stand on the issues and if you don’t, I’m happy to engage in a productive, informed conversation with you. I’ll listen to your story and I’ll respect and acknowledge your experience. I’d hope you’d do the same. And maybe we’ll understand where the other is coming from and find some common ground. Maybe we’ll simply agree to disagree.
Unfortunately, there are people who are incapable of doing any of this. Their posts are incendiary, based on misinformation and spewing hatred. There’s no opinion, no fact. They are quick to hit share from quack “news” sites they’ve never read before or even heard of until “doing their own research.” Sharing a GIF or PhotoShopped meme is a hell of a lot easier than brushing up on real history or reading informed (and well-written!) pieces by actual journalists, thought-leaders, advocates and others who bring a balanced approach to the hatriolic speech that defines much of today’s discourse.
As a longtime friend of mine said, why would I want people in my life who disrespect me or my family? Who want to take away the basic human rights of people I love? Who, by virtue of their decision to vote for an oligarch whose actions demonstrate clear misogyny, racism, bigotry, instability and xenophobia — not to mention a complete disregard of people with special needs and people identifying as LGBTQ, two communities that I care about immensely.
Which is why I don’t understand how you can tell me you love, care, and support me and my family when you are placing my family’s future in the hands of a President who will have the power to make that future even worse or disappear altogether.
If you can explain that to me, I’m listening.
Let me be clear: this isn’t just about Trump supporters. If you’re voting for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or Mickey Mouse or your dog, this is about you. If you’re using your vote to send some sort of moral protest message to — where, pray tell, exactly? — this is about you. If you’re championing a candidate who you know nothing about and never heard of until two weeks ago and who has (really, let’s be realistic here) zero chance of having anything to do with your future, this is about you.
I mean, how did Ralph Nader work out for you? (h/t The Husband). Because those of us who have been around awhile remember all too well a similar scenario 16 years ago during Bush/Gore. Like that contest and most of them, this election is a two horse race. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up.
History repeats itself, my friends. History repeats itself.
It may come as a surprise to some of you, especially those who have known me for a long time, but I dislike conflict. I prefer to avoid it. Conflict has, on occasion, cost me a lot and I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to disengage, to stay silent.
This election is not one of those times.
For me, this election is very, very personal. I believe that this election is about all of us but I especially believe, as Michelle Obama said, this election is about my kids and your kids and their future. It’s about my son’s right to get an education and to live up to his God given potential and to not be bullied by anyone, most especially the President of the United States, for having a disability that would have had him locked away not all that long ago. It’s about my daughter’s right to control her own body. It’s about each of their choices to love and to marry whomever the hell they want.
When presented with an entity who doesn’t respect any of that and so much more, I believe that I have a moral obligation to do everything in my power to speak out in the face of injustice and hatred when I see it. And I’m glad that the majority of people I know see it this way. Yet, there is a very vocal segment who refuses to listen to perspectives besides their own narrow views. The response then becomes to attack, to degrade, to vilify.
That’s not why I’m on Facebook. The very reason I can’t quit it altogether is because I come to Facebook to connect with you. You, who are my family scattered across the country and you, my friend who I went to nursery school with and you, my former co-worker from 20 years ago. I love Facebook for how it allows me to celebrate and mourn and laugh with you, and I need it because it is here, in this space, that I feel less alone in my greatest challenges and when the world pummels me down, time and time and time again.
So, no. I don’t enjoy the idea of unfollowing and blocking people from my life as their true colors are revealed. It’s hard and it’s sad, and it’s awkward and messy. I’ve been on the receiving end of being outright unfriended (not simply unfollowed, unfriended) by people I’ve known for 26 years, more than half my goddamned life, and it is hurtful as hell.
But in many cases, whether I agree with their politics or their reasons, it’s necessary. And as I continue to reflect on what my relationship with certain people will look like after November 8, right now it seems like the only choice.