Take a break, but don’t forget to come back

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FROM NPR:

We asked how your social media habits changed after the election. More than 150 of you replied — and most are tired, deleting apps, unfriending people, tuning out politics or worried for family ties.

Source: After Divisive Election, Overwhelmed Social Media Users Unfriend, Cut Back : All Tech Considered : NPR


 

NPR recently published the above article about the narrowing of communities, courtesy of the most divisive, negative and emotionally gripping election most Americans have been unfortunate enough to have lived through. Specifically, people are unfriending like mad on Facebook, or otherwise staying away from social media altogether. I spoke with a colleague today who said that she’s been avoiding the social network of late because she “need[s] a break from people.”

I get that. A couple dozen (maybe more?) of my Facebook friends are staunchly pro-Trump or are otherwise deeply conservative, and they share a lot of content that I find personally repugnant, and that’s not even including the “news articles” populating their feeds that are so obviously fake that I question their basic intelligence.

I completely understand the desire to disengage, to retreat into one’s private space to reflect, maybe forget even for just a little while all the disheartening stories and news of the last few weeks. I, for one, realize that I can’t “unhear” that stomach-churning, horrifying Access Hollywood tape from early October, and that was just one example of just how much damage has been wrought by one very angry, self-absorbed and manipulative narcissist. (And now he’s our president. Ugh. There I go again. Where’s the sangria when I need it?)

Still, I hope that very soon, good, conscientious people will return to the communities in which they once thrived and through which they were involved in civic society. We need more people with a commitment and passion for social and economic justice; freedom of speech, religion and of the press; reproductive rights; human rights; and so many other civil liberties that are now being threatened under the impending new administration.

So many people reached out to me privately, either just before or just after the election, lamenting that they didn’t feel they did enough. As any good therapist will tell you, there’s no sense in wishing for what might have been. Instead, channel that disappointment and anger into productive action. Come back to your community, even if your heart is still a little bruised, and your head is still smarting from the pain. Come back to your networks, and double down on your outreach. We still need Joe Biden memes, cat GIFs, puppy videos, holiday baking recipes, and the latest news from Kamp Kardashian. But we also need people to participate as fully informed citizens of a democratic society.

Of course, sharing meaningful, thought-provoking news and essays on social media (obviously, I don’t mean these news articles) should just be the beginning of one’s engagement. I loved the proliferation of “how to be involved” articles in the days after the apocalypse election. Here are two of my favorites:

How to Channel Your Post-Election Anger, Sadness, and Fear Into Action (from Slate.com)

Finish Your Ugly Crying. Here’s What Comes Next. (from NYMag.com)

I’ve already done a couple (after, of course, hanging out in Barcelona for a few days. Business trip, believe it or not!). Namely: becoming a monthly donor to my favorite progressive organizations (that would be the ACLU and Planned Parenthood), and paying for the journalism that sustained me throughout the election. I also have been in touch with my fellow Hillary for America volunteers, and we’re working on our post-2016 strategy. We’re setting our sites on defeating Ted Cruz’s reelection bid in 2018, and for that, we have to start now.

Another “next step?” Figuring out, along with so many other of my progressives-in-arms, who would make a great candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Right now, there’s not a very long list, but I’m thinking this particular woman might just deserve a place on it.