The tendency for family and friends to share their political beliefs on social media, especially leading up to and since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has been very eye opening for me. A little bit of background; my father never discussed politics. Actually, it was pretty rare for anyone in our family to have a political discussion. Either that or I was shielded from any discussions of this sort. Of course times were different back then and people weren’t as whipped up about these things, though now that I think about it I remember a couple of off-handed comments about “All In The Family” or “Maude”. But seeing what family and friends write on social media today, me included, is rather eye-opening.
I understand that not everyone is going to see eye-to-eye on these things. I get that. To be honest, my “world view” has expanded considerably since moving to The Windy City nearly three years ago. Before leaving Upstate New York I used to enjoy spending Thursday evenings at the airport having a couple of beers with close friends and solving the political problems of the world. The three of us that tended to do this were a good blend: one on the right but not too far right, one on the left but not too far left, and one in the middle leaning socially in one direction and fiscally in another. We kept the conversation civil, even leading up to and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. It’s certainly possible to do this. However, there’s a reason those two aren’t active on social media. They’re sane.
On social media right now I have family by relation and by marriage that are saying the wildest things. Disappointing things. Some things that leave me speechless. Dumbfounded. These particular folk feel that Trump is doing a great job in the White House. Today. Right now.
The only thing that goes through my head is this: da fuq?
Now, I’ll admit I can’t bring myself to watch Fox News for more than 30 seconds without wanting to kick the television across the room. When my husband is watching some sort of news broadcast and Trump comes on with that horrible sing-songy preacher-for-a-penny-wannabe voice he has I become enraged. The man is a moron. Anyone who has to tell you constantly share his superior level of intelligence is actually an insecure idiot. Back in my commuting days I’d listen to right leaning talk radio just to see what others were thinking on various subjects, but even the most pearl-clutching, shat-bit crazy rhetoric at the time had nothing on some of the twisting and turning the folks on Fox News do to plump up Trump today.
And I can’t believe I’m associated, either by relation or by choice, with people that believe that crap.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been drawing a line at maintaining amy relationships. If anything racist is shared I end the online relationship immediately and honestly I question assembly with these folks in real life. And yes, that includes memes where “#BlackLivesMatter” is crossed out and replaced with “AllLivesMatter”. No explanation, no dialog, you’ve made up your mind, I’m outta here, and no need to pass me the cole slaw at the next gathering, we probably won’t be in the same room.
I tried. I attempted to understand. I tried explaining the importance of #BlackLivesMatter like this: imagine going to St. Jude Children’s Hospital and telling the kids living through their childhood cancer that “Hey, All Children Matter!”. Any compassionate human being wouldn’t ever say that. Just because we’re saying “Black LivesMatter” right now, because it’s been much too long since society has realized this, doesn’t mean other lives don’t have value. It’s just that we’re not going to tolerate this racial injustice, we need to fix it, and something has to be done. #BlackLivesMatter
The person I shared this with said everything was fine since Obama was president, and actually President Obama was racist against whites because of Affirmative Action. I didn’t go any further in their diatribe before hitting “Unfriend”.
As I type this I can’t help but think that perhaps not talking about politics may have not been the best approach. I feel less educated on matters than I should be and I’m not good debater on these subjects. I’m not looking to live in a bubble of my personal belief, but I’m looking to have discussions with people that have open minds. I like to think I’m open minded.
But the idea that based on skin color some folks have more value than others? Yeah, I’m not discussing that. It’s just wrong.