Step One: Unfollow?


I said I was going to lay low on social media for a while. Good thing I’m not a politician, because I said it, and then I did the exact opposite. Yep, I’m a big old flip-flopper.

After the election results on Wednesday, I figured that the best thing I could do to take care of my sanity was to turn away from social media. However, just like coming across a squashed armadillo on the side of the road, I couldn’t look away. Not only did I want to see the shell, I wanted to slow down, pull over, and peer at the guts.

Part of me wanted the comfort in hearing what my like-minded friends had to say. Part of me wanted to see if the people I know who voted for Trump would wake up gloating. A small tangent: I don’t know a lot of Trump supporters, and the struggle for me is that of the friends I know who said out loud they were voting for Trump (I am certain that a lot of people we know would never admit it), those people are friends I love dearly and have known almost my entire life. Normally, if you’re in a relationship, when you are at “different places,” you break up. But I didn’t break up with my conservative friends because we do just fine as friends as long as we’re not discussing politics. We also hardly ever see each other. I don’t have a single friend who is someone I see frequently who supported Trump.

So when things settle down some, I plan on having one-on-one conversations with people that I know supported Trump, specifically regarding the racism and sexism, because I really am baffled. However, before the election, I had several of these conversations and they were extremely enlightening. But I think we can all agree that rarely do these conversations result in either party changing their mind. So that’s tough.

Anyway, lucky for me, the gloaters weren’t on my feed, and the posts I read the day after the election were all pretty much the same. People were sad. In shock. Angry. Confused. But mainly, they were scared. They are scared because they are people of color, they are part of the LGBTQ community, they are from immigrant families, they are non-white people visiting the country for work or school, or they are allies of any combination of the aforementioned groups that Trump has bashed at some point in time. These people didn’t support Trump, and they fear the ramifications of a president who touted a message of exclusion rather than inclusion.

A hard question, but one worth asking, is how many of your Facebook friends expressed fear after Election Day? If your answer is, “Nobody! God Bless America!” then perhaps it is worth considering how diverse your collection of friends really is. I say that because if you created a pie chart out of my Facebook friends and broke it up by race or religious background or sexual orientation, I would still say it’s not diverse enough for me. I yearn to embrace and welcome people of different backgrounds into my universe because I believe that diversity is what makes us great.

After a few days of poking around on the dead armadillo, I wanted to look away again, but the stench of it lingered. I had to take action.

In times like this, the “Unfollow” option is a glorious thing. I started by unfollowing a few people who expressed their disdain for Hillary non-stop for the election season, but I kept them around, agreeing to disagree. However, I used the unfollow option several times after election day when I spotted a hideous meme or a just-so-slightly racist comment. Buh-bye. Good riddance. Maybe I made out with you in the back of your mom’s van when we were teenagers, but you never outgrew your racism. I didn’t call you out then, because I didn’t have the guts, but I have the guts now. See ya.

Then, I unfollowed a few people who are behaving exactly as tacky as the people who’ve been disrespecting President Obama for the past 8 years. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that cussing like a sailor and attacking people on Facebook comments is going to help get you what you want. In fact, it will probably get you the exact opposite. So, for now, I’m unfollowing my FB friends who are name-calling. If you settle down, I’ll pay attention again.

I’m also unfollowing a few people who are lumping together all Trump supporters as hillbillies. I know several Trump supporters who aren’t. I also know a couple who kind of are. Believe me, I understand that we’re grappling with the challenge of thinking that a vote for Trump is a vote for all of the vile and awful things he’s said, but there are people – dare I say some of my lifelong friends – who believe that the economic policies of Trump are what we need. That we need to “shake up Washington.” While I’m not personally a Trump supporter, I’m also not a coal miner who felt like Hillary Clinton wanted to take away his job. That coal miner has feelings. I can’t go stand on his doorstep and blame him for our failed environmental policies of the past, well, the past forever, because how much discussion about our environment did we hear during the pre-election debates? Nada. That man doesn’t care. He wants a job to feed his family, and he thinks Trump is going to fix that.

Please know that my stating this is not stating that I believe that Trump is going to fix anything, but the challenge I have is that if we label every Trump supporter as a redneck racist, aren’t we starting to create the same kind of divisiveness that a racist creates?

I’m also unfollowing a few people who can’t seem to get off of their weird “moral” high horses. If you’ve read this far you most likely think I’m on a high horse as well. I’m really not – I’m feeling all kinds of confused and conflicted and I just want people to be nice. But friends, please stop telling people to “get over it.” Let me remind you that it is FRIDAY after Election Day, and since we have social media, we are all going to talk about what we think about it. There may be a lot of us who grew up in the days where you don’t talk about politics and religion at the dinner table, but we have social media to let us express how we are feeling. We’re all talking. Quit expecting half of the country to be quiet. We need to be LESS quiet. We all need to be talking to each other and if one good thing comes out of this basket case of an election, it’s that more and more people are talking.

For the people on all sides saying, “Get over it!” Let me also remind you that one candidate got the popular vote and the other won by electoral college so everybody needs to quit gloating. This was hardly a landslide in any sense of the word. It was a disaster, as president-elect Trump would say, because half of our country didn’t even vote. So stop telling people to “get over it.” If we can’t figure out a way to work together, nobody’s going to win anything.

For the people saying, “Protestors are a bunch of whiny kids,” let’s not forget that we live in a country where at least at present time we have a right to protest peacefully. Just as much as you want your access to own a gun (and I’m fine with that as long as you’re not a nut job), then don’t you dare suggest that people can’t protest. This isn’t a game of “pick your amendment.” Once I get up from sniffing that damned armadillo I’ll likely get up and dust myself off and protest myself, because I am angry. I’m angry that we’ve elected a body-part grabbing misogynist with zero qualifications for the job who speaks so poorly of immigrants and minority groups. So at some point here I will be part of a protest, and I’m not a whiny kid. I’m an opinionated, nasty activist! But I won’t cuss at you or yell the big F word because I think it’s just plain tacky to do so. Protests – peaceful ones, I stress – impact change.

Now. About violent protestors. Stop that nonsense and quit making the peaceful protestors look bad. Lucky for me, I don’t have to unfollow anarchists on FB, because I don’t know any of them at present, but protestors who incite violence are ruining it for everyone else. Violence on any side is not okay. I think we can all agree that there are turds on both sides who smash bottles and hurt people and those people are a hot mess. But let’s not argue with a right to peacefully protest. I guarantee that if we’d elected Hillary Clinton, there would be protests. Personally, I think the big difference is those protests would be all “Lock Her Up!” while Clinton would simply ignore them and get to work instead of Tweeting, “Unfair!”

Tonight, in the “secret group” that Hillary mentioned in her concession speech, a young woman asked if she should block her grandmother because her grandmother, disapproving of her support of Clinton, said some terribly ugly things to her on Facebook. The overwhelming guidance was that even though Grandma is family, it’s time to block Grandma.

I’ve only ever blocked one person on Facebook and it was the most well-deserved blocking I can possibly imagine. That’s a story for another time. I’ve tried hard to make it my personal policy not to shut someone out because we share different beliefs. However, thanks to unfollowing, which is a temporary option, until some of my Facebook friends gather their wits about them, I’m going to walk away from the armadillo. I’m going to call out racists like crazy, and I’m going to call out men degrading women, and when it’s time, I’m going to sit down with some of the people on the “other side” and try to talk some of this stuff out. I’m going to express opinions, but try to do it with respect, even when I’m angry. I’m going to hope that while we figure out a peaceful transition of power- whatever that looks like in the coming months – that we can fight for justice while doing it with kindness.

At this very moment, I have no clue how many people have unfollowed me because of my opinions, and that is completely fine with me if they need to do it. I’m just sad they’re missing out on the picture of the squirrel sticking his tongue out. Totally their loss.




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