I don’t even know how to explain what the last few days have been like here. I wish I could share with all of you how amazing, and terrifying, and gratifying (and terrifying) it has been to watch my last post get shared far and wide. It has been a singularly unique experience, one that I don’t know that there’s any way to prepare for, but one that has (mostly) been the best experience of my blogging “career.” And there’s no real good way to follow it up, nothing that will match it or live up to any expectations I or anyone else have, so instead of trying I’m just going to talk a little bit about what it’s been like.
When I wrote my plea out, it was born out of frustration and sadness for the things I’ve seen in my own social media circles, mostly on Facebook. Not about the differences of opinion, or about the sharing of information, or even, despite what some people may assume, most of the jokes shared. Instead, it was about the ugly side of things, the point where it wasn’t talking policy and issues and candidates anymore, but instead was just name calling and vitriol.
It was something I’ve been pondering for a few weeks, spurred by one specific graphic that was shared by one specific person–the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. And so I did what I normally do, I sat down at my computer and wrote out the frustration I’ve been feeling. For those of you who are new here, that’s pretty much how I work through the things that are bothering me, with a brain dump at the computer. I did it on my lunch break, hit publish, and went back to work, never expecting more than the handful of my loyal readers to ever see it, but knowing I already felt better for getting it off my chest.
So much for not many people reading it.
Something in those words has clearly hit a nerve among a lot of people. People who are tired of so much anger and hatred. It has been those people who have overwhelmed me with their support–with comments and emails and tweets and blog posts that say “me too” and “thank you” and “I’m glad I’m not the only one.” It has shown me that there are so many people who want a different level of discourse–not one of putting your head in the sand and ignoring what is happening, but one where there is ACTUALLY discourse, instead of name calling.
I’ll be honest, I was petrified to post anything vaguely related to politics–even when I thought only a couple of hundred people AT BEST would read it, I knew there was the possibility of pissing people off.
Well, WAY more than a couple hundred people have seen it now, and with so many views, it was inevitable that there would be people who are upset by my post. There have been a couple who have offered polite, well reasoned counterpoints to my plea–and while I hold firm to my point, I appreciate greatly the civility they showed in their discussions. There have been a slightly depressing number of people who have missed the point entirely. And there have, of course, been a few that have gone to name calling, arguing with other commenters, and the exact angry rhetoric I’m talking about. It makes me a little nauseated every time I read one of those comments, but it is not entirely unexpected.
As an aside:
For the most part, I’m going to ignore the more absurd and personal of the arguments leveled at me, but there is one that I do need to address, just to make it crystal clear. I realize this is mostly for my sake, as the people who need to read this will probably never end up here again, but I want it on the record:
In no way, shape or form do I take this election, nor the issues that are at stake, lightly. And my point was never about staying uninformed, ignoring information, or keeping your mouth shut on learning about or teaching about those issues for the sake of “being nice.”
However, I believe VERY strongly that the chances that you’re going to teach someone, or change someone’s mind, or convince them of your point of view when you are insulting them and throwing out barbs about their stupidity (at best, we all know the worst can get so much worse) is close to zero. I’m only calling for a return to some semblance of civility when talking about our fellow citizens in an effort to elevate the dialogue to something that actually resembles dialogue instead of monkeys flinging poo at each other.
Luckily, for every negative comment, there have been 10 amazingly positive ones. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is, in this big huge way, to be able to say “I’m not the only one.” To feel like there are others out there, like me, who are saddened by the animosity we’re showing and being shown by people we know and love, and who would like to see that change. And for every negative comment I’ve received, I can just look to one of the hundreds of positive ones to know that so, so many of you feel the same as I do, that I’m not crazy, and that there can be civility and kindness in the midst of political discussion and debate.
Yes, this is important. Yes, there are very real consequences at stake. And yes, we need to educate ourselves, advocate for our positions, and vote.
But we don’t have to do it at the expense of our relationships.
So thank you, to all of you who have read, tweeted, shared, posted, emailed, commented. Thank you for reading my frustration, and for sharing it, and for thinking there’s a better way. Thank you for showing me that I’m not the only one. And thank you for giving this little blogger an amazing (if slightly terrifying) ride.
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