Poking holes in our echo-chambers to save America.
By the time Donald Trump was being sworn into office in Jan 2017, most people I knew had already blocked, muted or un-friended everyone in their life who supported Trump.
It was the Liberal version of The Purge: Election Year, the Social Media edition. And, it was brutal.
You remember. Those proclamations stating: “If you support Trump, you might as well unfriend me now!” “If you support Trump, consider yourself BLOCKED!” “I can’t be friends with RACISTS!” It was a bloodbath.
Well, I’m here to politely ask… no actually, I’m pleading for you to re-friend your un-friendships for the sake of our country.
It’s 2 weeks away until a messy election and regardless of who wins, it’s gonna get worse. If Trump wins, we liberals will all threaten to move to Canada, shouting through tears to the already crying choir.
If Biden wins, our un-friended loved ones will dig deeper into their caves and plot their revenge. And, they will hate us even more than they do now.
Either way the election goes, the divide will continue and get worse. And, it will continue forever until America comes undone.
We’ve been here before and it led to a Civil War. I know, it sounds sensational or paranoid but, our history and the experts beg to differ. So does my social media feed.
You see, I didn’t un-friend the Trump supporters in my life. Lord, how I wanted to sometimes but, I couldn’t bear to do it. It felt so final and challenged my optimism for humanity. I was also scared I would lose them forever if I did.
There weren’t many but, over the last 4 years, they’ve remained loud and ever-present in my feed. My dad and stepmom, a brother, some aunts and cousins, a few dear old friends whose posts would burst into my feed uninvited.
Their posts were constantly poking holes in my comfortable echo-chamber of liberal commiserating and Trump outrage. And, at the end of these long 4 years, I’m actually grateful for it. It allowed me to *gulp* empathize with Trump supporters.
And, here’s the thing. I would gently poke back and it felt great.
Once in a while, I could remind them that I, their loved one, was a liberal remember? Do you mean me when you posted that? And I don’t want to burn the flag or the country down. You know that, right? Of course you do.
I could comment on a post that I, their liberal daughter/sister, can own a shotgun and also be pro-choice. Not all liberals want to take away guns and no, being pro-choice is not pro-abortion. C’mon now, you know me.
I was able to push back a little. Or a lot. But, I was giving “the other side” a voice.
In these echo-chambers of your un-friends and blocked family members, the conspiracy, misinformation and propaganda are running rampant without any checks.
Watching the propaganda and conspiracy theories happen in real time was hard. But, my power is that I can post that I’ve voted by mail for 20 years without a problem, in blue and red states (!) knowing they would see it as they scrolled. And, they did.
Occasionally I’d get a surprising “like” that would confuse but encourage me. I found out my stepmom is ferociously pro-choice. Who knew? I definitely wouldn’t have if I had blocked her in 2017. Tiny common grounds were found in unusual places and that gave me hope.
Too often, I would find myself the only “liberal” voice in those cavernous rooms. But because these people knew me, I couldn’t be labeled a troll or a bot because they knew I wasn’t one.
Once in a great while, they would stop the rage-ranting to listen and comment back. Agree to disagree was usually how it ended but always with a ❤️ at the end of it.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows building a bridge across the divide, though. It’s very hard. But, if we don’t start now there won’t even be a bridge to build.
The Trump years wore us out, I know. Most Americans are exhausted. But, you know who isn’t? Those folks you blocked, muted and cut out of your liberal bubble life. They are ready to fight the Libs even if Trump wins.
Both Biden and Trump supporters agree that this is the most important election in our history and for our future. The difference is that they are taking their propagandized “Liberal threat to democracy” very seriously.
I was not surprised by the arrests of “militia” who threatened the Governor of Michigan. I saw it coming. I would not be surprised if there is violence after the election results are finally in regardless of who wins the presidency. In fact, I’m expecting it.
The enormous rage at the “Liberals” is real. And, it’s terrifying. But, we aren’t showing them we are anything different.
We as a country are at a precipice.
I find it interesting that both parties claim to be “The Party of Lincoln”. And, instead of thinking about what that means, we bash each other on social media and retreat to our safe echo chambers, each claiming the Lincoln Badge of Honor.
But, what as citizens are we doing to earn that badge? We Americans, as families, neighbors and friends, are finding ourselves (again) in a country so deeply divided there is a very real threat of civil war.
I believe Pres. Lincoln was an eternal optimist. Only a serial -and quite possibly masochistic- optimist could have believed in the goodness of our most wretched citizens in his call for unity. He challenged all Americans to rally for a new beginning and ultimately kept the chasm from swallowing us whole.
As the Civil War tore families and our country apart, Pres. Lincoln spoke to an equally divided Congress. In that speech, he said:
“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves. Then we shall save our country.”
We are facing a similar time, like it or not. We are being challenged to look for a new way of being as a country. Pundits and propaganda on both sides swarm like flies telling us they know the right way and it’s NOT the other’s. I imagine Lincoln had similar buzzing in his ears.
Somehow, he was able to swat those flies away and stay steady on his unifying course. And, he gave us the first step: We must disenthrall ourselves and chart a new way forward. Because what we’ve been doing isn’t working.
Our Liberal echo chamber was our security blanket for 4 very, very long years. But please know, for the other side, it’s served as an efficient war-room.
I’m not saying we’re absolutely destined for civil war. Neither am I saying your 2nd cousin is definitely going to join a militia and wreak havoc on a capitol building. What I am saying is I’ve seen what is brewing on the other side.
Their propaganda machine has deemed us Libs a menace, an enemy to the country. And because our echo chambers have remained firmly sealed, they have no reason to question that.
While we remain faceless and silent in their world-view, the anger will continue to fester until it explodes. We need to put our faces, relationships and love against the boogey-men they call “Liberals”.
If we can do this, it will be harder for them to hate us.
We Americans let our respective echo chambers get so strong they are almost impenetrable and that could ultimately be our downfall. But, thankfully we can still do something about it.
So, start poking holes folks!
Go through your blocked list and see who actually deserved it. Not everyone gets a pass, I get it. Some people are just horrible people.
Think about those friends you had a solid history with before the madness of 2016. What about the family members you actually miss in your life and could let a few manic posts during our collective insanity be water under the bridge.
Share a picture of your new quarantine puppy to your nice aunt (the racist one can stay blocked). Start “liking” pictures of your blocked friend’s kids again. Send a DM to your muted 2nd cousin with an easy “thinking about you, hope you’re doing well ” and make sure to put a ❤️ at the end.
We can do this kindly and confidently without stirring a hornets nest. We don’t have to agree with them or sacrifice our beliefs to do this. The goal is to deflate the echo chambers, slowly and methodically. Our rage cannot match theirs if we want to have a peaceful, unified nation and get a full night’s sleep finally.
And hopefully someday, they will see that we Lib-tards love America just as fiercely as they do.