One week ago, it didn't take more than two scrolls into your Facebook newsfeed before you were slam-dunked in the face with a political post on why Hillary is a murderous liar or how Trump is a racist bigot on the fast track to running America into the ground. Some chose to share their reasoning for backing a certain candidate, and some even tried to not-so-politely force their opinions onto others (which I'm sure you experienced as well). This election season was so full of emotion, hate, and anger, exhausting and disappointing us, all while causing anxiety and fear to rise at exponential rates. I proudly participated in my first ever election last Tuesday, but my Facebook "friends" had no clue who I cast my vote for. Here's why:
It was my choice. It was my vote. It was my opinion.
And quite frankly, no one cares what I thought because they were too caught up and focused on what they thought. I couldn't sway anyone or change their opinions over a shared Facebook post, nor is it my place to even try to do such a thing. Posting a political opinion was like setting off a ticking time bomb: nothing good ever came from it, especially considering how controversial this election came to be. The last thing we need in this world is more negativity, hate and division. Social media political debates succeeded over and over again in doing just that, and I refused to be part of the reason why.
I kept my thoughts to myself because I didn't want others to see me in a different light because of my political stance. How many times in the last few months have you seen someone post something you thought was so repulsive, so ridiculous and just so completely off the walls that you haven't been able to look at them the same way since? How many times have you seen someone degrading and dehumanizing another user simply because they don't agree? How many times have you seen someone you thought was respectable call someone "dumb" or "stupid" or "uneducated" because they were voting for a different candidate? How many times have you seen an engagement where an individual is forcing their beliefs down someone else's throat?
This election changed how I see people. There are some people who I thought were respectable, intelligent and kind; but because of the choices they made on social media and how they portrayed themselves, I don't think that way of them anymore. I don't want anyone to feel that way toward me. I don't want to be seen as anything less than a respectful, understanding and compassionate person on and offline.
Whenever I saw something that I passionately agreed with or wanted to click "share" on, I didn't. I was scared to post my opinion. People are so mean, and vicious and condescending. I didn't want to be the next victim of the "Politics Police" (and you all know exactly who they are on your timeline). For some reason people feel this undying need to fiercely defend their candidate, comment on every post that contradicts with their personal views and lash out at anyone who disagrees. I've watched adults come after kids and good friends become strangers, all over a vote. Why is there so much hate and anger? Why do we attack people behind the safety and security of our computer screens?
What I wish was more widely understood is that it's not the President of the United States that is going to make the change we want to see in our country. It's us. We make the change. We are the change.
And we have a long way to go.