Tomorrow marks a year that Donald Trump has been the POTUS, and it’s been like a never-ending season of HBO’s Veep with the reigning incompetence in Washington, D.C. But this post isn’t about reflecting on the racism, homophobia, misogyny, or fear-mongering coming out of the administration over the last twelve months. I feel like the news cycle, Twitter, and outrage voiced all over the country and all over the world serve as evidence of the behavioral issues in the highest office in our land. This doesn’t mean I won’t continue to call it out over the next weeks, months, years (hopefully not years) of Trump’s term. Rather, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on how this last year has affected me.
For the first half of the year, I was into Facebook activism. I felt like I was reaching people when I posted news and opinions in reaction to Trump’s decisions. That started to die out until Charlottesville, at which point I started #WriteBacktoFightBack (more on this later). My social media activism started again, but I ultimately started focusing on just a couple of issues close to my heart because I couldn’t be on Facebook all day long.
The fact is though that I don’t think it actually makes much of a difference. Here’s why: There are two groups of people I’m friends with on Facebook. Conservatives and liberals. The conservatives won’t change their minds because I post something on Facebook. The liberals are already on my side and probably already know about what I’m posting.
Where does this leave me? I still posted sometimes toward the end of the year, but less and less about politics and more and more about cute animals. This doesn’t mean I stopped paying attention.
You might be wondering why I bothered to stay friends on Facebook with conservatives. I’ve been asked by people before if I would cut out of my life those who had such differing ideas from my own. After Charlottesville, I was ready to delete people from my Facebook and my life who agreed with Trump’s horrifying statements about that event.
Over the subsequent months though, I wondered how that would help? How does further division actually help? Better to keep telling those people I’ve connected with what I believe, that there’s still love between us, and hope that they realize Nazis are not on the same level with non-Nazis. As I said above, I don’t actually think I’m changing anyone’s mind there. And if someone posted a comment that could be hurtful to others, I tried to be quick to act and remove it. Yes, that’s censorship, but it’s my timeline. I can censor it if I like.
Thanks to school demands, I’m not really using Facebook right now. I’m checking in with school and writing groups, but that’s about it–so the whole question of Facebook activism might be moot, except for the fact that it gave me a forum to express my frustration in an internet where I didn’t feel safe or comfortable expressing that frustration elsewhere.
I created this hashtag as a way to use my words to address the issues our country and our world is facing. It gave me the courage to stop hiding behind friends-only posts on Facebook and talk about how the world is affecting me as a writer and a human and a woman. And you know what? Response has been positive so far. I try to keep an open mind, look at both sides, and examine facts. Not alternafacts. The real, researched kinds of facts.
It wasn’t until recently when someone told me that the theme of a speech he was giving was based on #WriteBacktoFightBack though that I really felt a deep connection to the project. I felt honored that he used this idea that writing and fighting–especially after the 2016 election–are interwoven for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry writers alike. What I like most about this project is that the fight happens on the page, instead of in the streets.
Because we’re protected by the right to free speech, #WriteBacktoFightBack is possible. It can open up conversations, because the fact of the matter is that we’re not getting out of this alone. Liberals will never defeat conservatives in the sense of converting them, and the opposite is true, too. Even if we don’t like one another’s ideas, we have to acknowledge their existence–both the people and the ideas.
We may not be able to change minds, but maybe we can change hearts. By opening our own, we can perhaps open others so that they see us as people and not just as “liberals” or “snowflakes.”
Where I Am Now
Honestly? I’m tired of politics. I want to crawl under a rock with my novel and short stories and live in their worlds. Except their worlds have politics too, so I’d probably want to escape again. I also feel that as a wordsmith, I have the duty to respond in writing to what’s been happening in our world. As my hashtag suggests, this is where I fight, peaceably and nonviolently, seeking to educate, inform, and inspire.
We’re a year into this presidency, with possibly three more to go (though I hope not). We need to look after one another and try to mend the rift that the administration is only too happy to widen.