Ever since the 2016 United States Presidential race heated up, I spent far too much time online with people I don’t know — and some that I do — “discussing” politics and the issues of our time.
Well, discussing isn’t the right word. Arguing, berating, flailing about, screaming into the void. Those are more apt descriptions.
But now — much to the delight of my wife, I’m sure — I’m retirng from the fight. I will no longer post, share, like or comment publicly on anything political for the forseeable future.
Am I giving up and lying down for what may be a disastrous time in America’s history? No. I’m acknowleding that online debate and dissent is empty and pointless.
Political opinions only resonate with those who already agree with you. They change no one’s mind. The impact is nil. So I’m turning away from the slings and arrows of Twitter and Facebook, trading in my social impact for change in the real world.
How? It’s a work in progress. First, I have become a registered Democrat. This was no easy decision. I’ve never been affiliated politically and I voted for Republicans in three of the six Presidential elections in which I’ve voted.
But the Republican Party has gone so far afield that I feel it’s a moral imperative must align against them. I still believe in small and unobtrusive government — that used to be the Republicans — and don’t agree with the entirety of the Democratic platform.
American politics has crystalized into one side that wants to actively hurt people and one that wants to help those who can’t help themselves.
For me, it’s an easy choice.
I’ll still be active on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere … reading, learning, absorbing. And I’ll be writing, sometimes about politics, other times about the other nonsense that fills my brain: baseball, movies, books, Star Wars.
But mostly I’ll be living where it counts, which includes writing to my congressmen and supporting the causes and institutions that need help financially and otherwise.
As a start, I’ve contributed to a Kickstarter campaign called “We the People”, which will help distribute activist art across the country. It set a modest goal of $60,000 and is currently nearing $1.3 million.
No one wants to be complacent in the face of adversity. Online pot-stirring is complacency at its basest. A recent quote from a Judd Apatow interview struck a nerve:
There’s a danger on the internet that you think you’re accomplishing something. So you see an article about a disease and retweet it and think ‘It’s cured now!’ And you’ve fooled yourself into thinking that you’ve done something productive.
This resonated with me because in recent years I have felt distinctly unproductive. Not writing, not creating, not making much of a difference at all really, just …. being.
I had fallen into the trap, but I’m pulling myself out.