I can’t help it. I have to keep talking about politics. I’ve spent the last year and a half semi- to fully-immersed in a scene that I’d only vaguely cared about previously. Now that we’re at the climax, I’m almost bubbling over with the
I was two months too shy to vote absentee in the 2008 election while living as an exchange student on the other side of the world. So in 2010, I voted in the midterm election based mostly on what my parents talked about. For those of you who aren’t aware, that was the vote which ousted the Iowa judges who had legalized gay marriage in my state. By the 2012 general election, I had started to question the status quo and was going through a personal crisis. I was aware of the Republican candidates that came tromping through my university, but was out of the country during the caucuses and didn’t pay much attention until the general election.
Then things all went downhill. I changed my voter registration to unaffiliated and started glowering at the nonsense people were saying, wondering if anyone had ever taken a civics course. Mr. Olsen, my high school government teacher, would have never allowed anyone to pass his class with the amount of misinformation being propagated.
I was deleted on social media this election cycle.
I did not delete anyone.
I was furious sometimes at the things I would see show up on my timeline. I would shake my fist and go find one of my usual debate partners and vent about the inaccuracies and assumptions. I would see an article posted and delve into the sources, trying to decipher to conclusions drawn. Sometimes I would agree, sometimes I would roll my eyes at the bias. I would wander around the aisle, asking questions and demanding answers.
I am an unaffiliated voter. I did not delete you.
I’ve complained about the echo chamber before, of the dangers of being too tightly wound in a circle of like-minded people. I’ve complained about Facebook’s algorithm before of showing me more and more of the same things I’ve been clicking on until I believe that everyone must think exactly as I do because I never see articles that contradict me.
And so I keep you. I keep you even though I disagree with every argument you make, every meme you share, every article you post.
I keep you because I can be wrong.
I keep you because I want to see what you think.
I keep you because I want to see what you say, and see if I can challenge my own point of few.
I want to be able to understand where you’re coming from.
I want to be able to listen to someone who thinks differently than I do, and restrain myself from trying to bring you over to my side.
Call it a lesson in patience, and one that I don’t always succeed in.
But here’s the other thing.
January 20, 2017. We’re going to have a new President.
We’re going to have new members of Congress.
The world is going to keep spinning.
I’m going to keep being noisy. I’m going to keep advocating for the things I believe in. I’m going to keep voting, keep donating, keep volunteering. I’m going to do everything I can to make the world a better place.
And part of that? Well part of that means keeping you as part of my world.
Maybe on Facebook we’ll post contrasting debates, but sit down for coffee and talk about the illness your daughter is facing, how you’re applying for a program, or the trip you have coming up. We’re going to live in the same world, occupy the same space.
I may disagree with everything you say.
But we live in this country together.
I want to know what you’re going to say.
I want to know what you believe to be true.
I want to know where you get your information.
I want to know why you think one way or another.
What about you? Are you going to listen to me? Are you going to be able to sit down and have a reasonable, intelligent conversation?
Or will you delete me, because I say something you don’t like?
Will you insulate yourself, so that the only propaganda (because don’t fool yourself: that’s what we fill our minds with, no matter how much we claim to “research”) that you ingest is the propaganda from your favorite sources?
Will you allow the anger that you feel rise up in you when you read my contradictory posts to become so vehement that you sever our connection completely?
I’ve hidden the most frequent political posters, don’t get me wrong. But that was because they were cluttering up my feed to the point where I couldn’t see my friend’s wedding pictures, or recipes, or the less active friend’s thoughts on public affairs. I’ve hidden no one specifically for their beliefs.
Would you defend my right to disagree with you? Would you defend my freedom of speech? Would you acknowledge that I’ve done research too and drawn a different conclusion? Would you believe that I can be on the opposite side of the spectrum and still love you?
Like I said, I’ve been deleted this election cycle. I’ve tried to maintain a middle ground, reaching out to both sides to understand where they’re coming from. And with some, I’ve had phenomenal conversations. With others, the instant I bring my opinion onto their post, I disappear from their connections.
It is what it is.
I’m tired of trying not to get deleted you when I disagree with everything you say, because I’m the one you accuse of being too concerned about political correctness, without ever finding out what I think is actually important. So here I stand, and I hold my breath for one more day.
Because at the end of it?
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” -Evelyn Beatrice Hall
Happy Election, everybody.