I made the executive decision to log off social media after last week’s riot at the Capitol for two reasons:
1. I didn’t have the mental capacity to hold space for you, my community, while I was in the middle of processing my own feelings
2. Full transparency: I got pissed off and overwhelmed at the constant stream of uninformed opinions. Plus, memes that oversimplify complex issues and spread misinformation are both dangerous and unproductive, and that’s pretty much all I saw following the riot
While I was logged out, I watched a slideshow of every major national tragedy and event millennials have witnessed in our lifetimes, starting with 9/11. And holy shit, . No wonder our generation is so tired and outraged. No wonder our country is so divided.
As relieving as it is that Trump will no longer be America’s president, another bullshit politician isn’t the answer either. Demonizing and glorifying public servants is silly; they’re only human, just like us. The reality is Joe and Kamala aren’t gonna save us. We have to save ourselves.
Unifying America isn’t going to happen by convincing the “opposition” that our way is the better way. That will never work, and yelling our opinions at each other won’t move us forward. The only way to unify is to step into our higher selves and listen empathetically when we engage in conversations with people who disagree with us. To understand that their perspectives, beliefs, and values are shaped by their own life experiences, just as ours are.
And then? We have to be willing to compromise.
I KNOW, I know. That unequivocally sucks. It’s exhausting. It’s infuriating. It’s discouraging. It’s unfair. It’s so much easier to just end the conversation, close the DM, leave the room. But those of us who are capable of stepping into our higher, more enlightened selves have the responsibility to do so.
Political memes, yard signs, thoughts & prayers, trending hashtags, rhyming catchphrases, love & light, and black squares aren’t going to help us right now.
We must be willing to have open conversations with friends and family instead of letting them devolve into arguments. To research laws and policies so we can make empowered voting decisions. To attempt to understand people we disagree with. To wait until we have all of the facts until we react emotionally to news headlines. To spend some free evenings reading about our country’s history instead of zoning out to reality TV. To actively listen in silence even when we have a lot to say. To use our platforms to share bold ideas instead of just photos of brunch.
Change is going to take all of us, but it starts with each of us. We can only control ourselves, but that does NOT make us powerless.