A waterhole, an oasis is someplace I go to get relief from daily stresses and from reality, in general. Social media outlets used to be that place for me. I could see photos of friends’ vacations, their children, their pets and their dinner. I could read encouraging stories, find funny memes and see cat videos – you know I love cat video compilations. Social media was a place where I could go to take a break from the world.
It’s not now. That waterhole has been poisoned.
Now it’s a place full of self-righteousness, vitriol and ignorance. I find myself unfollowing more and more people I know – many of whom I even agree with – because I cannot stand the constant negativity. I am angry at the fake news stories being shared without thought or consequence. Those fake stories negatively impact the real stories in the same way that false rape claims reduce the believably of real ones.
Here’s the thing: I haven’t had a first choice candidate win a presidential election since the first time I voted in 1985. I think I’m bad juju (and available for hire to jinx your opponents, for any future candidates out there). Here’s the other thing: I’m an adult. I don’t whine about my candidate losing, not even when I think that the system has been perverted, which has been claimed this year in both the democratic primary and in the general election. I don’t gloat about my secondary candidate winning. And, frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it.
I am a woman and, unlike some of my friends, I have lost jobs and I have been paid less than less qualified male counterparts. I have been sexually assaulted and not reported it because I knew that I wouldn’t be believed anyway. I know that sexual discrimination is alive and well. Still, I didn’t put on a vagina costume (which is, in my opinion, both in poor taste and counterproductive) and take part in a march that accomplished exactly nothing. Planned Parenthood will still be defunded based on lies. Rapists will still walk because their victims weren’t saints. Women will still make, on average, no more than 94 cents for every dollar a man makes. I know all of these things; but, I cannot spend every waking second of every day dwelling on it. I will cease to be able to function, if I do.
And that’s what I see happening around me. As a country, we have drawn lines in the concrete, not in the sand, and we can’t communicate anymore. I remember once having a conversation with my son’s father. He wanted to have a balanced conversation about my religious beliefs, but I distinctly remember morphing into Little Miss Dogma. The entire conversation cratered into a disagreement when it didn’t have to. No real information was exchanged and neither of us was enriched by it. Rather, we were further alienated.
Again, that’s what I see happening around me. So many on both sides are plugging their own ears while shouting their beliefs and demanding to be heard that no one is being edified. Instead, there’s a great deal of really terrible noise. Noise that is dividing us and we’re letting it. Only we can take our fingers out of our ears, stop shouting and choose to listen with an open mind. Only we can chose not to be divided and that is a choice we must make. That is our imperative for, in the words of a much wiser person than I, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
We still have a union; but, we cannot continue to stand this way. We have to stop being Republicans and Democrats, and get back to being Americans.