I was at a stoplight with my windows down last week when an old peer hollered from the car next to me, “KIM!!!” I turned and smiled and waved but I’m going to be completely honest: All I kept thinking about was how they posted support for an anti-LGBTQIA stance that one time on Facebook. I decided I needed to take a more aggressive approach to my Facebook policies and I posted the following this morning. I thought I would share a version of it here just to document it with more personal anecdotes because this is my safe space.
I came to a realization that, in order to be able to be kind to SOME people when I see them in public, I need to unfriend them on Facebook. You may think this makes me a bad person, and if that’s the case I accept that. I am just haunted every day by the things I see on there and even if I unfollow someone, I see their comments on my friend’s posts first and foremost because since we are still “Friends” Facebook shows them to me.
I saw a “Friend’s” comment on another post recently where they called are article biased that was a science-based review of Trump’s COVID response and that “Bias” was nothing but direct quotes compared to data. I had unfollowed them awhile ago and kinda forgot they were Trump supporters but this claim of bias irritated me AND I REALLY WANTED TO ENGAGE. But there’s no point and it bugged me for days and then I remembered: WAIT. I can unfriend them and then Facebook won’t default and display their comments anymore.
If someone posts Pro-Trump memes and articles, then if I run into them at Target all I’m going to think about is how they support a man who removed several Transgender protections that the Obama administration put into place, directly affecting many young people I know in our community. I see them and the young Trans people I know pop into my heart and I get SO MAD on their behalf and can barely muster the kindness I would give a stranger.
If a person constantly argues against anyone daring to criticize Trump’s response to the pandemic, then I will see them in public and only be able to think about the 210,000 lives lost and wonder how much fewer that could have been if he would have just taken a strong stance on masks back in March.
If someone responds to any Black Lives Matter post with ALL LIVES MATTER, then when I run into them and I will only be able to think about how they are a systemic racism denier and I will be devastated at their role in holding up any progress the rest of us are trying to make in creating less racist systems of criminal justice.
If I see someone constantly blaming a lack of God for problems in this country, then run into them grabbing coffee on the way to church, I will know that they see me – an atheist – as part of the problem, not ever acknowledging the role fundamentalist religion plays in demonizing the “other” in our culture and maybe allowing that people without religion are capable of having morals.
If I see someone on Facebook posting support of this President, then when I see them around town I assume they also support all of the ways he has set back our attempts to combat climate change by rolling back all of the environmental regulations that auto manufacturers were ALREADY PLANNING FOR. We are behind this movement compared to all other developed countries and if someone supports that, then I’ll have trouble not thinking about that when I see them.
If a person vehemently against any sort of attempts to bring affordable healthcare to everyone, then I will think of how we are currently stuck without insurance until November 1st and that my husband is putting off getting his wrist looked at after a bad injury and THIS IS RIDICULOUS that we have not prioritized healthcare as a RIGHT that EVERYONE DESERVES in this country.
If I see someone post excitedly about a Conservative leaning Supreme Court, then I will assume it’s because they are hoping to overturn the legalization of gay marriage. And when I see that person in public all I’ll think about his how the legalization of gay marriage finally gave everyone in my family equal rights to marry who they love and if they don’t support that, then I’m sorry if I can’t stop thinking about that when I see them.
Or maybe they like a Conservative Supreme Court to criminalize abortion? Well, the ramifications of that would be devastating and it’s very important to me that my daughter have the same control over her body that I had. It’s hard to see someone picking up takeout at the same restaurant and not assume they think me a baby murderer when I’m constantly having to look at their Pro-Life posts.
Here’s the thing, I can actually be kind to strangers even if I know they support this President. I helped a guy at Starbucks recently who was wearing a GOP mask because I firmly believe in putting more positive in the world than negative and those brief interactions are not a challenge. But when I see your posts and comments on Facebook, it becomes very hard for me to do that.
I can’t have memories in my head of the political views a person holds that directly harm people I love, and thwart the vision I have for this country: That many of our systems – from criminal justice to city planning – were founded on racism and it will take bold anti-racist moves to shift that balance that causes White Privilege. That everyone has a right to food, shelter and healthcare. That gender and sexuality exists on spectrums and no one should be disrespected or treated unfairly based on where they exist on those spectrums. That unregulated capitalism only fosters greed and we need a fundamental shift in how we look at wealth and money in order to conquer the imbalances that exist in this country where poverty is punished and a wealth allows you to skip out on your financial obligations in the form of taxes.
Maybe someday I’ll be someone who can see those things on Facebook and not hold them in my heart when I see the poster in public, but today is not the day. Too much is at risk for myself and the people I love. I’m too tired to debate anymore. I’m too worn out to engage. It’s time to cocoon. I’m just in a self-protect mode now. Hopefully I’ll be able to safely emerge after this election but for now? I’m just trying to stay safe.