Friday, November 11, 2016

How I Helped Elect Donald Trump

Let me premise this by saying that no, I absolutely did not vote for Donald Trump on Tuesday.  And have been pretty vocally opposed to everything he has said/stood for since the beginning.  But it has become abundantly clear to me that I played a role in this catastrophe.  And to be perfectly honest, I think many people are kidding themselves when they say or think they had nothing to do with this.  

Here is where I believe I helped this man become the most powerful man in the world:

Reality TV – Most people who know me know how much I love reality tv.  Beyond the entertainment values that many of my preferred shows offer (Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, Real World, the Bachelorette), I have always found it fascinating to watch normal people caught on tv.  Whether these are truly reality is debatable, but here’s the issue: these shows have created a society which values people who have no real inherent quality that makes them worthy of our deference.  We value these people simply because they have been caught on tv.  Kim Kardashian, for example, has never once done anything to truly warrant the pedestal of worship she holds.  And with that pedestal of millions of followers and worshipers comes great responsibility.  Responsibility I do not believe she has earned or deserves or really knows how to handle.  Donald Trump is obviously another prime example.  The media fell in love with him – and then the world.  He was given a platform to entice and influence the world that I fully believe he did not deserve.  Donald was on tv constantly and at no cost to himself  because he was entertaining, whereas Hillary appeared very rarely and had to pay for advertisements.  We enabled this because we were entertained by him.  Who does deserve these types of platforms?  I’m still working on that, but I will tell you, reality television has fundamentally changed the value system of our country.

My response – I will no longer watch ANY reality tv.  None.  This is actually going to be quite difficult for me.  But I will no longer consume media that has facilitated a rise to power of people who are entertaining with no real further qualities.  We as a society MUST move back to a place that finds entertainment elsewhere.

Biting My Tongue – I was starting to think that with my age came the wisdom to know when to speak and when to let things pass.  I’d see or hear people saying things that were inappropriate – racist, sexist, ignorant, or just plain wrong – and I’d oftentimes excuse it for the cause of keeping the peace.  By not engaging in conversation or calling people out on things that are flat out wrong, not only have I done a huge disservice to those who are functioning with incorrect or inappropriate views, but I’ve done a huge disservice to myself.  By not engaging, I never fully developed the skills to articulate these views or statements to those who disagree with me.  Sure, I could say my piece to people who agree, but that doesn’t matter.   Donald Trump built upon this quality of society – he “told it like it is” for those who felt they could not say how they really felt, and white liberal heterosexual cisgender people like myself bit their tongues.

My response – I will no longer bite my tongue.  Just like they say at the airport: “See something.  Say something.”  If I hear people saying racist, misogynist, sexist, homophobic, or really anything that can be considered hate speech, I am committed to speaking up.  It is clear that folks who used to keep their awful perspectives on other people to themselves have been emboldened to come out of the gutters.  In some ways, we are now able to see the true problems our country has to address, but I will not stand by and I will not be quiet.  Readers be warned: if I see you commenting or liking things on facebook that can fall into any of the qualities listed above, I will be saying something.

Shutting Off People who I think have deplorable worldviews or values – On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve done a great job of surrounding myself with people who agree with me.  My family and friend network is built up of people who agree with me almost completely on issues I find to be of highest importance.  Scrolling my facebook feed shows articles and statements that pleasantly support and encourage my worldviews.  On the rare occasion that I see something that disagrees with me, I unfollow or unfriend the person.  Or if I’m out with a friend of a friend or hear something that offends me, I make a point to avoid that person moving forward.  I write them off.  By doing this, I was able to come to the conclusion that most of the world agrees with me – that I don’t need to do anything because there isn’t a problem.   As someone who has done work to acknowledge my privilege, I failed here.  Had I kept my finger on the pulse of what “others” were thinking or saying, I would have been more aware of the incredible problem facing our country.

My response – No more.  I will not shut down or ignore differing views.  I will engage.  My preferred way to do this is in person, because social media is garbage for actually encouraging dialogue.  But, I will not turn away.  I will look directly into the eye of the beast so I am more aware of what I need to do and what is at stake.

I have work to do because I am part of the problem.  I am a white woman.  Did you see the numbers of us who voted for Donald?  It’s time to stop pointing our fingers at others and looking at ourselves.  We cannot change or control other people, but we can change and control ourselves.  Be the change you wish to see.


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