I’ve been trying hard to call the president elect by his legal name since my last rant because calling people hurtful names is childish, and it is what the current president elect does, and I hate the thought that I have something in common with him. But damn it, the words Molester McFascist just roll off the tongue so nicely.
However, deep breath, his name is …Trump. He does have a tremendously fragile ego, does he not? His very first tweet after the election was to say how unfair it was that people were protesting against his win…. Apparently he only believes in the right to free speech for some of the American people, the ones who don’t like him are unfair.
Oh hell, we’ve elected an insecure five year old.
Anyway, people are rallying in the wake of this nightmare. There have been marches and protests nationwide which – fingers crossed, and eyes screwed shut wishing desperately – will signal to the Republican party that perhaps they shouldn’t fuck things up too badly just because they have the power to do so.
People are looking to see how they can become more active in local government. When they can vote, what organizations they can support, how to make their voices not just heard but utilized as tools to strengthen their communities.
People are also figuring out how to support the demographic that have been specifically targeted as the enemy during Trump’s campaign, and singled out for hate crimes. (Ugh Trump’s media entourage have designated them ‘fake’ hate crimes, wankers. Damn it, there I go again with the name calling.)
And we are all of course expressing ourselves on social media, and it is this which has led to a specific form of divisiveness arising at the very same time as we are preaching unity: Facebook defriending.
Periodically I will have a Facebook cull, but it’s because there are people who’ve friended me that I’ve only met once or it was a way to communicate with someone for a one off occasion, or they are friends of friends, and no deeper connection has materialized so therefore we don’t need to get all touchy feely and know about each other’s lives, thank you very much! They don’t seem to notice the loss. Then there is the handy ‘hide post’ button that I use for people who’ve always been very nice to me, but whose taste in jokes on the internet I find offensive and puts me in a bad mood, or I’d rather not see an endless list of sports fixtures in my feed. I know I’m not alone in doing this, that’s why the hide button exists.
Things are different now though, since the election, people are slashing Facebook friends like Freddy Kreuger and Wolverine in a cage fight. There’s an open letter to former Facebook friends circulating which explains it quite well: yes you’ve been friends for a long time and we should be able to agree to disagree, BUT you’ve got all these other friends whose safety is now under threat, and you don’t want to be friends with people who support that threat. (In a way it’s a detrimental practice because we create a larger ‘us and them’ divide instead of uniting friends and eliminating threats… but then if you don’t defriend you’re condoning the bigotry …hmmn, tricky.)
This hasn’t been a big issue for me because I’m not shy about expressing my opinions so I don’t tend to get friended by people who believe the exact opposite to me. However, today I found myself in a new dilemma. A friend of mine had posted an election related article. I’d written a comment that rambled a bit – surprise! – and then at the end specifically gave a positive opinion of Hillary Clinton. The next comment that came up was from someone saying that HRC was a terrible candidate and implying that it was the Democrats’ fault we ended up with Trump.
Although the comment was a response to my comment, not the article, it wasn’t posted as a direct reply to me. I wanted to interrogate this bloke: why does he think Clinton’s so bad? What media has he been following? Has he bothered to do some research into what is true and what is not? Has he been following Clinton’s career for longer than just the last year? Basically I think he’s wrong and put forward an ignorant opinion, and I want him to change his mind – the crux of most arguments.
Here’s the thing though, I don’t know this guy, never met him, but I do know that he has known my friend for years and years. So my dilemma was, do I start that conversation or not? To start it might be an antagonistic move, but it might also open a healthy debate, but it could put my friend in an awkward position, and she’s bloody lush so she doesn’t deserve that. To not start it prevents hostility, but it also doesn’t do move anything forward – that person is still saying something that I believe is a harmful untruth.
I decided not to pursue it. For one thing he lives in a country that just got divided by Brexit, he’s got his own problems to worry about, he can’t change ours. Secondly I don’t want to make my friend’s facebook page the arena for my anger, she has always been and always will be an integral part of my happy place, and it’s just plain bad manners! Thirdly, he’s thinking the same thing about me, we are not going to change each other’s minds. Lastly, he made his comment to express his own frustration, and to let me know that he thinks my opinion is wrong, but he didn’t make it a direct reply to me so I reckon that he doesn’t want me to answer back. I suspect he has no desire to have a stranger challenge him, and then deconstruct his beliefs for him in microscopic, painful detail. In fact I’m not even a real person to him, I’m a facebook character. He has no idea that his comment would make me smack my palm against my head exclaiming, “Oh my god this is exactly the idiotic thinking I was talking about”, in the same way that I didn’t know my comment would bring out his rage. The truth is we’re not personally angry at each other, we’re angry that there are so many millions of people who don’t see things our way and that we didn’t get what we wanted. Just like Snifficus, the Molester McFascist elect (I’m not quite at ‘mature’ just yet), we think it’s unfair.
Therein lies the double edged sword of the internet: you can say whatever you want, but so can all the people who disagree with you.