While enjoying a wonderful birthday lunch for Rene’s brother Nick at a swank eatery in Silverlake, (Cliff’s Edge, check it out) it was agreed upon at the outset of our meal that there would be no discussion of the presidential election. The thickness of the tension was, and is, still in the air and the mood was to be festive…and nothing like raining on the festive parade when addressing issues that deeply divide us.
I suppose you can throw this article in that same “meta” basket, as this is an article about not writing an article concerning my thoughts on the election. I actually have several reasons why I do not believe now is good time to throw my political two cents into the social media world, among other places.
To begin this meta-article, in Communication Studies courses the first thing we teach our students is that the most important aspect of the communication process is knowing your audience. It is impossible to tailor a message knowing little to nothing of whom you are attempting to communicate.
Keeping this in mind, judging by the tenor of social media, personal discussions and general observations of life in general at this moment, my audience analysis tells me this: Shut up. Leave it alone. Don’t go there.
Probably the worst thing you could possibly tell an upset, venting woman would be something along the lines of, “Well, you are just on your period,” or, “I guess Aunt Flo is going to be visiting soon.” I believe the reason these statements are not a good idea is obvious…and right now many of us are most definitely on our post election, president-elect periods.
Many people are upset. Even for those pleased with the election result, they are upset about the upset reaction (protests) of the election. As I write, many local Los Angeles high school students are marching the streets in protest because they are upset, scared, fearful, etc.
When people are upset they are overly emotional. When people are overly emotional, they tend to listen with their hearts and not their heads. When you think with your heart and not your head you cannot objectively and rationally listen. If you cannot objectively and rationally listen, I have no interest in attempting to send you a message.
Please understand this…I could offer my opinion and you could fiercely disagree with it and that would be fine. Wonderful. No problem. I would love to engage in that thoughtful and rational dialogue. However if that opposition is fueled with a highly emotional rage, I have found that this is not time for a discussion rather it is time for an entirely different, and completely valid, type of communication: Pure expression.
Now is not the time to reason, it is a time to express.
Pure expression is a very good thing…a great thing in fact. Without means by which to blow off steam, vent our feelings and/or verbalize our frustrations, we would all be dangerous psychotic messes. Although this is my first presidential election that I find myself steeped in social media, I cannot recall the need to vent ever this strong in my lifetime…and I’m 53 1/2.
Please do not interpret my unwillingness to engage in political dialogue as somehow dismissive nor disrespectful. Sometimes the need to vent “Trumps” (did I really just write that?) the need to sit and reason. There are many, many times in my life that I am simply not ready to address an important issue as my personal emotional context is not quite ready for that discussion, whatever the reason driving my emotional condition may be.
I suppose the final reason I find it counterproductive to discuss the election at this time is something that has been thrown in my face quite a few times this past week and, apparently, I have committed the greatest evil I could possibly have committed: I was born a straight, white male. They tell me this somehow disqualifies me from uttering any word that remotely implies, “Please do not panic.”
“Easy for you to say,” they tell me. “You are a non-Islamic white male.”
If racism is defined as allowing or not allowing a person a basic human right, in this case, freedom of speech, based purely on racial characteristics, well then, this would be racism.
But I get it, periods can be funny that way.
Hey, I can be pretty self-centered at times though I am definitely not that selfish of an ass that I cannot empathize and feel for those unlike me.
I recently told a very scared and fearful former undocumented student of mine, who was brought to this country as a small child and considers this her only country, that I would engage in the most severe form of civil disobedience in the event immigrants are torn from their homes and deported to a country they know nothing about. Yes, this straight, white, privileged male would stand up for an innocent brown person being threatened with deportation against their will.
Regardless of one’s position on immigration, I would hope most citizens of any color, religion, ethnicity or class, would act as decent human beings and stand up against any perceived social injustice as well, even if that injustice is perpetrated against one of a different race. And I believe the great majority would.
I have never, and will never, pretend to know what it is like to walk in another person’s shoes. I will never know what it is like to be a woman and experience objectification or admiration, or a black person in a white neighborhood, or, hell, even a Hispanic in the grocery store. I have no idea of the verbal or nonverbal treatment I would receive. The glares and stares or lack thereof. I have no clue what it is like to be you. And, guess what? That is correct, you have absolutely no idea what it is like to be me.
But, alas, who is really thinking with their head right about now anyway? I am quite certain that even in this very vanilla blog, someone will take exception with something. Which is why this privileged person will just shut the hell up…for now. And when thine ears are ready to be taught, a teacher will appear, post period of course.