In a bold move today, I deactivated my Facebook account. That seems crazy, I know. And I thought about it a lot while driving for many hours yesterday. There are a lot of people there that I’ve reconnected with, that enjoy seeing: old high school friends, former professors, college friends, former colleagues, people I’ve met at conferences, etc. I had begun to use it more frequently over the last year or so, because I liked the variety of connections it offered over say, Twitter.
But the election. I tried, post election, to engage with my conservative friends and relatives. I am not one of the people who is saying that the people that voted for Trump are idiots. I’m not even saying they’re racist and sexist. Certainly the president-elect has said things that are racist and sexist, as have many of hist supporters. But not all of them have. Some of them just voted for him because he was the Republican on the ticket. Some just wanted something different and he was it. Many supporters really do have difficult economic situations that haven’t improved over the last 8 years, so they think, “Why not try something different?” So I tried to find common ground, agreeing with some of my conservative connections on certain things. And I also called out liberals who were being flat out mean. And I called out conservatives if they made assumptions about things or if they were mean. And I got a few positive responses. But I also got met with responses that were basically, “Nananananana. [Insert talk radio talking point.].”
I’ve been paying attention to elections since 1976. My preferred candidate has lost plenty of times, and I’ve just shrugged and moved on. But I cried this time. I walked into to work with 580 female students, and those who were paying attention and who had supported Clinton (a vast majority) were in tears or were angry or a little of both. Black, hispanic, asian and muslim students felt particularly vulnerable, and as I write this, many still do. My heart broke for them. The faculty, too, were distraught. We had all hoped to be celebrating our first female president, in some ways a culmination of the work we see ourselves doing in a girls’ school. Instead, we’re mourning.
If almost any of the other Republican candidates had been the winner instead, I’d be disappointed and frustrated, but not devastated. I’m devastated to think that a man with zero qualifications for being president, and who denigrated in public, on tv, pretty much anyone who was not white, male, Christian, and able-bodied. I’m honestly worried that he is going to do irreparable harm to our country. I am trying to hold out hope that he won’t, that his Republican colleagues can rein him in and that we’ll just be dealing with your typical right/far right politician. Maybe.
I heard a couple of things yesterday that made me feel a little better. First, from Science Friday, a segment about how to positively respond to stress. First, you have to believe that people can change, that situations can change. And, that it’s helpful to go out and do something good, perhaps be a part of that change. And second, an episode of Freakonomics about Social Trust and how to build it. Both episodes are about bridging divides, about not being complacent, about finding constructive ways to move forward.
I had thought that I would do some of that via Facebook, because that’s been my medium for quite a while, but I think that’s the wrong venue. And I’m still thinking about where I want to put my energy, but I definitely think I need another outlet besides work and I need to feel like I’m making a difference somehow. My daughter argued that I was, by educating young women to be leaders, and I get that. But I can’t help but feel that there might be something different I can do.