If you are reading this, you have undoubtedly seen a rise in bleak and depressing headlines hosting comment sections which represent all corners of the world’s condemned animal carcass-filled hoarder dens. Perhaps you hate what you see, but you don’t want to read anything that will make you more upset. Or maybe you just wish all those sad liberals would use their inside tears. And what difference does it make, anyway? You have never considered yourself an activist. You didn’t ask for any of this to happen. You want to get on with your life. You fear making any statement either way will jeopardize your career, harm your relationships, or invite harassment, and none of it seems to be worth it.
After all, nothing going on affects you directly.
But here’s the thing: just as deciding upon a course of action is a choice, tuning out is also a choice. If this is a choice you can afford to make, without fear of missing something that will directly affect you or your family, something on which you need to take action right away or else you’re fucked, you are lucky. Chances are, you have done nothing to be out of this crazy administration’s firing range aside from being born within this country’s borders and into a family whose religion is not currently being vilified by an entire governing body.
We live in a time in which avoiding information is no less of an effort than seeking it. However, the way Donald Trump and his team treat the dissemination of information is unlike that of any of his predecessors. Trump very publicly disowns the media, calling major news outlets who in any way challenge his statements “fake news,” refusing to take questions during White House press briefings, and commonly referring to his relationship status with the press as “at war.”
However, Trump is not at war with the media itself, but rather, with its purpose. The role of the press in any democratic society is, in part, to hold its elected officials accountable, alert public opinion to humanitarian causes or injustices, and ensure public resources are being used efficiently and cost effectively. These three pillars alone threaten everything Donald Trump hopes to gain from his power.
As a result of Trump’s self-described war with the press, the emergence of social media as a political juggernaut, and the constant barrage of lies coming from the White House, the overall messaging has become wildly self-contradicting. To a casual observer, it has confused more than clarified. This may seem like a messy accident, but make no mistake. This is exactly by design.
“The Trump Administration” is a phrase many of us thought we would never hear. It has become a wake-up call for many and a source of despair for many more. One of the goals Donald Trump and Friends have at this stage is overwhelm you with so much nonsense that you stop caring about what is real. They don’t expect you to fully believe the lies they are telling you; they just want to cloud the truth enough for people to stop seeking it. They want you to feel hopeless. They want you to detach. The end goal is apathy in the interest of preserving your own mental health.
While self-care is always a priority, and perhaps especially so right now, we cannot ignore issues that are abruptly and catastrophically impacting the lives of those around us. Simply having the option to unplug without the fear of losing your basic human rights is a privilege. To act on that privilege is to silently turn your back on one of the most devastating humanitarian crises this country has seen in centuries.
The obvious recent uptick in public participation and criticism that has follow it is by no means a new phenomenon. Silence from those in a position of advantage has always proven detrimental to those in a position of disadvantage. However, we exist during a presidential administration that threatens to destroy hundreds of thousands of lives. To decide this issue doesn’t concern you shows at best an abhorrent lack of empathy; at worse, tacit compliance with one of the most sinister acts of injustice in history. It is those with nothing at stake themselves criticizing protesters for exercising their constitutional rights in a meaningful way. It is those who have never worried about what a Trump presidency means for them, who are most likely to tell someone genuinely fearful for the life of their neighbor, friend, or family member, to “calm down,” “stop overreacting,” or “switch to decaf.”
Whether you consciously chose it or not, you are on a side. There is no middle ground here. You may not be interested in politics, but this issue has grown far beyond the political sphere. In fact, a group of people sitting in a room juggling human rights with national security should never make their decisions based on potential political repercussions. The reality is, however, many individuals’ and families’ futures are in the hands of people whose power and egos far outweigh their competence. By not speaking up against them, many are silently granting their complicity.
I am not saying everyone needs to be miserable every day. Four years is a hell of a long time to hate every word you read or cringe every time Rudy Giuliani dilates the gaping sphincter occupying the space where his mouth once was. But, to purposefully distance yourself from current events during times this tempestuous is to play right into the hands of those in power hoping you’ll detach enough to limit their accountability. Don’t ignore the news just because you can. Those it affects most directly – they didn’t ask for this either. Most never considered themselves activists. They would love to go on with their lives, just like you. But they cannot afford to tune out.
So yeah, here’s the info on that Chrome extension if you voted for Trump and can’t handle hearing people express their concerns about his efforts to destroy the world. You can shit on the floor and spray Febreze to pretend the room doesn’t smell bad, but at the end of the day, that pile of shit is still there until someone cleans it up.