So, I’ve written here and on Facebook a LOT about how you should not live in an echo chamber. I wrote about it a lot during the 2008 and 2012 elections – how you need to be open to hear the voices on the other side. You don’t have to agree with them, but you need to listen so you know what they’re saying. And back then? It was a lot of stuff I could overlook either because I disagreed, or because I had a different world view. There was a lot of talk of economics, and cutting entitlement programs. There was talk of increased military spending from the conservatives and combatting terrorism. There was talk of healthcare reform etc. I could listen to it and process it and move on with my life as a Obama-supporting voter.
I even still talked the talk and walk the walk during this election up until some time after the conventions and I realized: Wait. Trump is their nominee. And because I had a diverse Facebook feed I would see links to stories and videos from rallies where he called for suing anyone from the press who wrote bad things about him…right next to a friend or family member’s support of him for “telling it like it is.”
I saw painful testimonies of assault in response to his access hollywood video where he talked about grabbing crotches right along support for him because Bill Clinton was terrible too.
I saw people terrified when he said he was going to make Muslims register in some database right along side people supporting him for being willing to throw away political correctness to protect us from terrorism.
And I gave up and formed an echo chamber.
I decided that to continue to interact with people in my daily life, people who supported a Man who starred in my nightmares (literally, I’ve been having nightmares about him), I needed to stop hearing what they were saying. I needed people to stop bashing my candidate and calling her a “liar” when their candidate showed no higher level of truth-telling. I needed to quit seeing the constant support for someone I was finding more and more repulsive every day. I needed to quit seeing people posting Alex Jones links and Breitbart articles. I just couldn’t. I practiced self-care and ignored 8-years of preaching from myself and built myself an echo chamber.
I unfollowed everyone who openly supported him in their Facebook feed. I felt confident in my choice, that I had done the research, and I felt confident in my non-Profit news sources to keep me apprised of what was going on, on the “other side” and I started an “unfollowing” spree like I’ve never done before. And then the election happened and anyone who celebrated while I consoled sobbing friends and family, Unfollow. Anyone who supported Republican obstructionism for 8 years now demanding we come together? Unfollow. Anyone complaining about people talking politics all the time? Unfollow.
Facebook is an important tool for keeping up with community events, I can’t just shut it down or unfriend friends or family who I need to be connected to on the platform. But I can protect my fragile soul during these trying times and build myself a chamber of supportive voices. And I mean SUPPORTIVE. I’ve also unfollowed a few people who voted like me who just like to stoke the fires already burning around them. I have silenced the voices that darken my world so I can heal and regroup and so that I can be reminded of all of the lovely voices in the ether trying to take these results and have it push them to build a better community and a strong network of support for marginalized people around them.
Maybe, once the wounds have healed, I can open that world back up again. But until then? I keep up with several good news sources and I celebrate my echo chamber without hate or xenophobia. And I apologize to the Preaching Zoot of yesteryear and tell her, “I’m sorry…it’s a move towards self care…I hope you understand.”