PHASE ONE: OBSESSION
I must admit I’ve been guilty of a little social media/political obsession in the past …well, more like A complete obsession for an entire political year, and nearly all of it regurgitated onto my twitter and Facebook pages. I’m still not quite sure how it happened. After decades of complete and purposeful disinterest in politics, suddenly there was this old socialist from Vermont with crazy hair I’d never heard of before standing in my peripheral view who managed to resurrect this old political-fighter in me, one I’d buried a long time ago. But, under the mountains of disappointment caked in layers of frustration, and beneath thirty years of apathy, somehow that old political bone managed to gnaw its way through, re-emerging, once again and settled itself in to stay. ~Much to my surprise, and more than a few friends and family member’s chagrin.
An inkling of hope miraculously took spark, rekindled, probably, by all that political Bern that was spreading around at the time, and boy was it contagious!
I’m still kind of surprised that old flame caught fire. In the back of my mind, I still held out the hope for our first female president in Hillary Clinton; an idea gleaned way back in the political dust of my youth. It, too, had managed to linger. I’d even popped my head up from where it had almost permanently lodged itself in the sand in 2008. Just long enough to register a fleeting moment of disappointment when the country decided it was ready for its first African-American President before its first female one.
So, it was a bit of a shocker being jostled awake in December of 2015 by an old white guy I’d never heard of who wasn’t even a Democrat. But that’s what happened, and jostled awake I was, which has been both inspiring and utterly disappointing, at times.
I know I’m not alone in feeling like I’m on perpetual roller-coaster full of political upheaval and sudden lurches to the right or left. The flip-side of those feelings of rediscovered hope was all this pent-up emotion and a mouthful of frustration bordering on (and often spilling into) vitriolic anger, more times than I’d care to admit. For months it seemed the only response I was capable of in the wake of our new political unreality after the presidential election.
PHASE TWO: BURNOUT
All of which is to say I needed to take a BIG time-out and step back, put an end to the continuous engagement on social media, and regain my composure, or some semblance of sanity amidst all the fake news and alternative truths that were running around. Like so many before me, I had launched myself headlong into the abyss. Submerged by political burnout and post-election-PTSD, all that new-found optimism had turned itself inside out and took a temporary nosedive. There were just one-too-many disappointments to handle and my momentum fizzled, along with any interest in what people had to say on Facebook. The pages I’d so obsessively scoured only days before seemed impenetrable, the button too heavy to click, and I just shut the whole damn mess out.
This was somewhere around the time the two Democratic female senators from my progressively democratic state decided to vote against Bernie’s prescription drug bill, along with 11 other Democrats, when I finally threw in the towel. I mean, when your own people vote against you, how in the heck do you fight back? And, who are you fighting when allies are enemies and enemies are your enemies’ allies, and you’re just standing there pissing in the dark hoping someone somewhere will hear you and stop to look back. Only they don’t; they just keep plowing forward into alt-left nonsense this and Antifa-anarchy that, and smother you with angry Bernie-bros mythology for wanting Medicare-for-all, or fair and evenhanded elections, to earn a decent wage, find a job, go to college, breathe clean air, and take care of one another and the planet. I mean, is that really so much to ask?
Or, somehow the same kind of racist, neo-nazi alt-right, armed and violent, riot-inciting extremism so recently displayed in Charlottesville? This, the constant comparison made by media pundits, centrist Democrats, and the political elite, and now co-opted by our president to excuse neo-nazi, alt-right domestic terrorism, and vehicular manslaughter as if both side were equally violent and extreme.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. That came and went and came back again but first, there was Trump and his swampy mire, seeping into every corner of our democracy laden with quicksand.
Like the idiot-giant looming down Jack’s spindly beanstalk as he tries to grab an ax and chop it down, you’re too late; He’s already seen you coming and swooping down his long and blundering arm, he scoops you up and sweeps you away. He seems content to play for a while, enamored by your novelty, the puniness of your inconsequential existence.Till like a petulant child, he quickly grows tired and bored, throwing you aside for a shiny new toy that suddenly caught his eye. Just like that, you’re forgotten, and you heave a tentative sigh of relief…until that 3 o’clock witching-hour, that is, the new pre-dawn time-slot for delivering a presidential address. No somber, oval office broadcast at the top of the news hour, the time of pomp and circumstance has given way. Instead, we wake to tweets, nonsensical, idiotic, and often misspelled, and nearly always void of fact or truth. Our presidential text alerts have become our new alarm-clock, shaking us awake to the alternate reality known as Trumpism.
God were that the least of it we might snicker and walk away. But it isn’t, and we are aware it. Perhaps the only good to come of such a colossal inconceivable nightmare is the brazenness of it all, the elephant in the room we can’t ignore, the emperor without his clothes, the monster in the closet you’d pretended wasn’t there, has announced himself boldly, in all his ignorant, and boastful glory for the entire world to see. Sometimes the sharpest light is the only one that reveals the truth, and we see it all, now, the whole corrupted mess of things that led to the 42nd president, Mr. Orange-man himself, Donald freaking Trump.
Outsized, outnumbered, and everything seems on the line, we need all the help we can get just to tread water, not formerly allied turn-coats who leave us high and dry and even more devastatingly behind. That final disappointment from my own senators was the final blow, one I nearly didn’t recover from…like I said, total burnout. It engulfed me, and I checked out.
PHASE THREE: DENIAL
What followed was the short-lived, but happy time in denial-land where I simply ignored all the tweets and comments, the alarming political appointments and verbal blundering. I pretended instead the real world was the one I’d once imagined and rediscovered in the four seasons of Newsroom I binge-watched on Amazon. If our president could have his own alternate world of facts created in some bizarro-upside-down Alt-reality universe of his own, then why couldn’t I?
Only, I couldn’t keep ignoring that nagging voice in the back of my mind, the one that kept insisting my made-up alternate Newsroom reality that should be real, wasn’t and the backward, upside-down nightmare we were living really was reality, one that never should have been, but still was. Somewhere along the way, I couldn’t pretend that what wasn’t real was or what was real wasn’t… I guess the truth catches up to us all, whether we like it or not.
I still haven’t watch the last two episodes of newsroom, just in case I need a reminder of what the world ought to look like, or maybe to hold on to hope against hope that it wasn’t all fantasy, that the world really did look like that and could again, some day. As long as the show doesn’t end, that possibility still exists, and I don’t have to feel that sharp pang in my stomach from the God-awful truth of today insisting on reasserting itself…damn that finicky friend denial, anyway.
PHASE FOUR: APATHY
Sitting glumly, I stared at the four walls for a few days which seemed to slide seamlessly into a few weeks, and suddenly I realized they’d slid right into the middle of February! Though, by then my apathetic slump had started to recede. I soon rejoined the ranks of real-live humans again…and wouldn’t you know, my ole’ Evergreen State of Washington managed to momentarily redeem itself by way of our state attorney general Bob Ferguson who’d stopped the Trumped-up ban on Muslims in its unconstitutional tracks, at least temporarily. Strike-one, for Mr. T, and one run for the home team.
Boy did some of us need that victory, however short lived.
PHASE FIVE: THE COMEBACK
So, there I found myself, February 19, 2017, slightly resurrected, battle-scarred and bruised like so many of us were, but with a fight still left in me. Sometimes a new day brings a new outlook along with it. Political interactions on my social media pages didn’t seem like such a good idea under that new, harsher light. The few forays back into the never-ending debate over who was worse, or should’ve won or who’s to blame for Trump have kept my posts few and far between.
I think I’ll keep it that way for a while…though, who am I kidding? I’m writing this long-winded diatribe on my WordPress blog which is linked to every online feed known to man, so it’s sure to show up on your Twitter or Facebook pages to be ignored as it passes across your screen…feel free to keep on scrolling.
So, here’s to you, my social media warriors. Keep up the good fight, stick together, and hang on tight!
~ We just might ride this storm out yet…