Despair Over The Stench Of A Presidential Trump
…and the challenge to avoid lashing out or a defeated silence on social media
Shocked. Devastated. Emotionally drained. Physically wiped-out. Like many other people, I’m feeling the effects of a particularly grim year. We’ve lost so many creative, courageous and inspiring people from the world of media and the arts. The world barely has time to move on from one catastrophic happening before another tragedy, natural or man-made, strikes, bringing death but also terror and fear-inspired divisions among those left alive. Now, in the penultimate month of 2016, we learn that a man endorsed by the KKK will replace the United States of America’s first black president at the next inauguration. President Donald Trump. I feel sick just typing the words.
I’m not here to rant at length about how Donald Trump is such a monumental arse, a fact which is self-evident from the revelations of the past few weeks – if not the past few decades. I’m not even going to berate the millions of Americans who decided that this man – if we have to call him such – was worth their vote. Whether on his own merit or because they just “really don’t like Hillary”. These facts, Donald Trump becoming the president-elect and the fact that people in the majority supported and voted for him, are distressing. It would do no good to make you all relive those anxiety-inducing events through my personal point of view.
I want to talk about attitudes, communication, and communication through social media in particular at this challenging time.
Social media is a challenge at the best of times. Without that tell-tale cheeky grin, an amused glint in crinkled eyes or a teasing nudge of the elbow, even comments without a trace of malice can provoke and irritate. Sometimes it seems you can’t mention anything on social media without someone wading in with their size 9s and giving you their opinion, whether you want it or not. That’s the trouble with social media: it connects people. Whether you want it to or not. If you sign up for and use social media, the channel becomes a two way street. Instead of merely acting as a bulletin board for your news, you invite other people’s comments and opinions on those announcements and insights. A mention that you have a cold will trigger myriad “best home-made remedies”, and a rapid-fire update about an annoying happening will inspire well-wishers to tell you exactly what you should do, and how.
Twitter invites you to “join the conversation”… but it doesn’t make it clear that whenever you use Twitter you will be slap-bang in the middle of a conversation with everyone in the world – whether you like it or not.
Mostly, I love social media. It’s not just a useful tool for my blogging & marketing work, it’s a fun, engaging platform where I can chat with people I consider friends. Topics of conversation which interest, amuse and arouse us are spoken about freely, with conversation participants joking, flirting and being sparklingly witty. Yes, mostly, I love social media and being a part of it.
When times are hard? Not so much. When pressures and stress are giving me migraines, when I worry about world events like the fact “President” Trump will get nuclear launch codes in January and could blow us all to bits, when I am trying to arrange a family Christmas in our new home we stressed, sweated and worried all year to obtain, when I am working so hard to get our autistic son the help he needs & placed into primary school before deadlines, when my partner and I are working so hard to pay bills and fitting in looking after a disabled family member at the same time that we can barely hold a coherent conversation with each other, when I fall down the stairs and someone thinks it’s hilarious to make weight-related & brain haemorrhage related jokes on Facebook (yes, seriously) – social media isn’t just a challenge. It’s another stress, another pressure, another piece of hard work.
Your situation will be different. You’ll have your own personal struggles, your own worries, your own triggers. You will have your own list of reasons why on any one day, on top of world events like the Trump debacle, using social media feels more like getting knifed in the ribs than enjoying carefree chat amongst friends. I see you.
No, wait. I don’t.
I don’t see you at all.
You probably don’t tell anyone who you are, why you’re finding today so hard and what your personal struggles are. I won’t trot out this over-used, trite phrase which is meant as a platitude to invisible masses but is, in fact, directionless and therefore meaningless.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to contact every single person out there who I know, who I follow or who follows me, and to find out your individual struggles and pain so that I can sincerely sympathise or empathise. All I can do is to acknowledge that from what I see on social media, from the updates that people DO have the energy and courage to post, a LOT of people are hurting and suffering – and especially this week after the news about Trump. This indicates to me that so many more people feel the same way, or worse, but aren’t willing or able to publicly talk about their pain and devastation.
I’m sorry that you’re hurting, that you suffer, that you struggle not just this week but at any time with your personal struggles. And I’m sorry if I’ve ever said anything in jest, in a light-hearted way or in an absent-minded way when I was having a great day, which irritated or upset you. I really didn’t mean it. Just as I’m sure the majority of people who type a jokey reply or otherwise look on the brighter side when I’m in the pits of hurt and despair, and on social media, don’t mean it either.
We need to be kinder to each other. Now more than ever. No knee-jerk nasty replies to people who probably don’t even realise they’re being triggering or upsetting. Look at the world. It’s already teeming with people desperate to act on their hate which is borne out of ignorance and/or frustration. The populous who voted for Trump in an outrageously sexist, xenophobic white-lash, for instance. I don’t want to add my voice to Earth’s angry chorus. I want to be kind, calm, compassionate and empathetic.
You’ll still tick me off on social media. You’ll still kindly comment with your remedies to my ills and solutions to my problems when I don’t really want them, thank you very much. And I’ll still piss you off, I’ll be all in your face with my blog and review links, and a whiny bitch at times, and attempt to joke with you when you just want to punch someone. I’m very sorry in advance.
The important thing is that we’re all still there. “Family means no one is left behind.” I almost let myself get left behind this week, with Trump being the final shiny turd on top of 2016’s steaming pile. I almost quit social media, and it’s not the first time I’ve asked myself whether the difficulty of dealing with other people’s responses – from friendly banter through snarky jibes to outright hurtful insults – is really worth it. Whether I should just pull the plug on my online world.
Perhaps you’ve wondered the same. If anyone would notice or if anyone would even care if you just… stopped. If you just closed your Twitter/Facebook/Blog and disappeared. To be completely honest: maybe I wouldn’t. Not right away. We all lead busy lives, don’t we. But there would be an impact. A loss.
Do not give up. You are a valuable person. A unique person. You have your own individual voice to add to a chorus in the world which might seem a little drowned out right now, but it’s still there. It’s a voice screaming against the blackness of hate, protesting inhumanity and demanding fairness and justice in all things. Whether you’re simply a person who believes in respect to all and you live your life as an example of that, or you actively campaign for an issue which is the very heart of who you are. Women’s rights. To make invisible illnesses visible – and respected. The right to an abortion. Rights, respect and equality for the LGBTQ people of the world, for non-cis, for asexual, for gender-fluid and gender-queer. For the people who can’t speak for themselves. For children. For the elderly. For the disabled, and for the differently abled. For the people of colour. For those on the autism spectrum. For people who want to live in a world where everyone can have the type of sex they enjoy, consensually with whoever they like, indulging in whatever kinks and fetishes they may enjoy. To purchase adult products without worrying about the existence of damaging personal lubricants and toxic sex toys. To work towards a world where a seemingly porous condom isn’t heralded as some kind of marketing victory – regardless of the potentially dangerous consequences.
Whatever your personal fight – even if it’s just to wake in the morning, smile, and get through your day – please don’t give up. I know it’s hard right now, what with the stench of the world’s presidential Trump, but you are valued and necessary. Please don’t let our chorus be even one voice quieter. I won’t.
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