There are times I wonder how much I am affecting change from the screen. Since I was eighteen, I have been writing about religion and politics. It’s so specific to that age, because the 2008 election was at its peak, and I was there for it in all my youth. So much so, that I wrote for an online blogging community that hosted all sides of the debate. If your entry was the most viewed and commented on, you were sent a whopping $50. Guess who received a check? Guess who decided it does pay off to go all in online?
But that was 2008. The politics of writing online were confined to Reddit threads and random websites like I was writing for. MySpace and a slowly awakening Facebook were more or less for social interactions between best friends and enemies — not ads targeting your voter mindset.
That said, it is an interesting concept to use Twitter and Instagram (I don’t count Facebook as a legitimate website any longer) these days as a means of flaming the religious and political fire. It is something to be said that a certain amount of characters from someone can lead to various debates/discussions, even relational fallouts.
Take for instance my relational mishap: It’s the 2016 election night and a good friend is having a political themed party. I lost my shit (“How could someone be CELEBRATING?“) and I held onto that grudge for a bit. When I finally saw this friend in-person, I had to buck up and apologize for the way I kept giving her the cold shoulder. Admitting the truth and apologizing for my assumptions was the first step. However, she wasn’t having it, which led to the meanest most immature adult conversation I’ve ever encountered. I walked away thankful that I pay my therapist to help me stay self-aware.
The whole thing was telling for me to see how my online perceptions played out in real life. I carried forward whatever I felt from this persons Story into my day-to-day friendship with her and it went aflame. Sure, she could have been less Mean Girl about it, but I also could have let the waters of that awful election cool. And, well, maybe we weren’t going to be good friends either way after 2016 (I mean…).
Now in the year 2019, I am chockfull of people who have the best Tweets and responses to what’s going on. I am living in information overload and it’s wearing me thin. I need a break. A break to reset and remind myself that grass still grows green and bumble bees bumble and not all has to be said online.
Instead, I want to become braver in the real world. I want the tangible bad and good. To feel myself cry based off, not another overload of traumatic stories, but of deep empathy. And right now, I don’t think I can find that through a screen.