Everyone can agree that the 2016 election was a disaster of almost comical proportions. It was a disaster for the Democrats and Republicans alike. It was a disaster for ordinary citizen's relationships with their family, friends, co-workers, and online acquaintances. The racism, sexism, and general hatred for each other has not even remotely started to subside since we watched (mostly in horror) Trump be sworn in as our next president.
I was extremely active on social media during the election ("yay, Bernie!", "boo, Trump!", "sigh, Hillary!"). I shared recycled memes uplifting my candidate of choice and tearing down the ones I didn't like. I commented on other people's posts with "you're wrong!" and "you're right!" when (what I felt was) necessary. I was really unhappy during this time. Really, really unhappy. And scared. And angry. The specific reasons for my unhappiness will be in my memoir that I will almost certainly never write.
Not too long after the election, I took a big step back from social media and politics for quite awhile. I spent months completely unaware of what was going on in the world around me. And that was ok. The world was surprisingly still able to continue revolving without my input or awareness. I am not very powerful or important in the grand scheme of things (or even in the minor scheme of things).
Since then, I've occasionally ventured timidly back into the cesspool of social media (and real media) only to find that the pool is still too diseased for me to stay afloat. So I leave again, and live a life of relative peace for awhile. When I am active, I stay away from politics 99% of the time. I try to avoid political posts, though I admit that I'm not always able to resist sharing some things that people (Trump supporters) may find offensive. For example:
In my defense, this was an epic insult that would have greatly amused me no matter who the target was.
So what's my problem (you may be asking)?
I can't stand how we treat each other. I can't stand the insults. I can't stand reading the same arguments over and over. I can't stand the entitlement that a lot of people have that leads them to feel other people had/have a responsibility to vote the way they want/wanted them to. I can't stand the hatred towards third-party voters. I can't stand the hatred for non-voters. People are still grumbling about the 2016 election at the same time Democratic primary candidates for 2020 are being announced. All signs are pointing to 2020 being even worse than 2016.
No thank you.
People don't go to comment sections of posts to have their minds changed. They go there to hurt other people's feelings (both with and without intention). Insulting a person's candidate of choice, or the person themselves has zero value. It accomplishes nothing. Berating someone who didn't vote for Hillary because of her ties to Wall St. (for example) is never going to result in that person changing their minds, agreeing with you, and voting for who you want them to in the future.
I am one person. One voter. I can't change people's mind with a Facebook meme. I probably can't even change someone's mind in a civil face-to-face conversation.
It has taken me about 2 years to evolve (or devolve, depending on how you look at it) to my current political stance. Which is as follows:
- Your vote is your vote. No one else can claim your vote.
- I do not think you are racist and or sexist if you voted for Trump.
- I do think that if you are racist and/or sexist and happened to have voted, it was probably for Trump
- There is a difference between a Trump voter and a Trump supporter, and I am no longer comfortable demonizing either as a matter of course.
- I regret being unnecessarily critical of Hillary.
- I forgive you for being unnecessarily critical of Bernie.
- Everyone (should) have the right to vote.
- Everyone has the right not to vote.
- I believe you have the right to complain about our government even if you didn't vote.
- I believe the media is largely responsible for the hate on both sides, because it is profitable.
- I believe our politicians indirectly encourage us to treat each other like enemies, instead of neighbors.
- I believe our politicians have a responsibility to lead by example and treat each other with respect.
- I believe that we're all more alike than we think.
- I believe that we're all capable of lifting each other up, instead of tearing each other down.
- I believe that everyone should take time to breath, watch some Mr. Rogers, and remember that we're all in this together.
So with these tenets, I am declaring myself free from the politics game. I will continue to vote because I personally feel it is my responsibility. I will continue to donate money to causes that help people. I will continue to donate my time to causes that help people, when I can.
But the rest of it? Game over, man.