For Social Media Politicos, the Election Was Not the End, It Was Just the Beginning.


Hey, it’s been a while. I have started and trashed many drafts of posts covering so many aspects of our political situation in America. There is so much to be said. Even now I feel a bit lost in it all. It’s hard to focus on the signal with all the noise. There is so much freaking noise. I guess a lot of us thought that once the election was over, our social media feeds would revert to the mundane sharing of personal achievements, generic humor and feline memes.

But the “political postings” have not seemed to die down. In fact, many have noticed that they have intensified. Is this good or bad? I guess it depends on who is being feed, with what, and how often.

Many admonish their online friends with quips along the line of, “Trump won. Get over it. There’s nothing you can do about it.” While I sympathize completely with people who are fatigued by almost everything they encounter online being Trump related—because I too am weary of this macro-discussion—I have a few problems with this just move on mentality.

Yes, Trump won the election. But it would do us all well to remember that he lost the popular vote by an even greater margin than that which Bush lost to Gore in 2000. So when more people did NOT vote for the POTUS [We all know by now that this means President Of The United States, yes? Because as recently as a month ago I was still having to explain this to people.] that majority is allowed to make their voice heard in opposition to policies and an agenda that most of the electorate voted against. So “he won” is not a valid reason to expect someone to curtail their dissent.

My second issue is this “Get Over It” I keep hearing. Barack Obama was the first president to hold office in a time with social media as the primary reference point and source of information for a large part of the American public. So the reaction to and resistance of his presidency was very well documented with news and commentary more easily shared than ever before.

My follow/friends list runs the entire expanse of the political spectrum, from actual socialists to actual fascists. I even know some anarchists. Actual ANTIFA anarchists, not these trendy hyphenated anarcho whatevers you encounter in certain Reddit threads and NationStates forums. I don’t know what others’ feeds are like. But I might make the argument that if your follow/friends list is not as diverse as mine, you are likely living in one of these bubbles everyone likes to talk about and you are probably a menace to independent critical thought and a healthy functioning Republic. But I’ll refrain from that argument for now.

Back to “Get Over It” — The reason I felt the need to tell you about the kinds of people in my very large social media circle is that for the last eight years I have encountered a pretty high number of anti-Obama postings, some of them reasonable and—I believe—warranted, like opposition to his ‘targeted’ drone strike program, but most of it just absolute garbage. From the “He is a Muslim Communist trying to FEMA death camp all white Christians!!!!!” to “Michelle Obama is a Transvestite”, I have seen some pretty idiotic and vile things coming from sites like Western Journalism and Hillary Clinton’s Crab Lice [yes this is an actual Facebook page].

The Obama years gave birth to a burgeoning website traffic movement from various sites with words like patriot and liberty and conservative somewhere in their name. Clearly there were a lot of people who never got over the election of Barack Obama. Even to this day, I see posts about Obummer, our Muslim-in-chief. Honestly if anyone needs to get over an election, it’s these folks still bawwwing about 2008. The guy isn’t even in office anymore.

Finally is the notion no one “can do anything about it”. Well. Bear with me now. We hear a lot about normalizing these days and we are just sick of it right? But the truth is, whether you think for good or ill, Trump was not a normal candidate, not a normal politician, and he is not a normal president. He does not speak normally, appears to not think normally and his actions every step of the way have not been normal. Many of his appointees are from so far out of the field it is absolutely baffling. And not normal.

We expected the usual primary-candidate-to-general-election-candidate pivot and never saw it. Once elected we assumed reality would set in and normalize his behavior but that didn’t happen either. Then everyone spoke of the sobering responsibility that tempers every president after they take their inaugural oath of office, but we saw no evidence of this change in Trump. Instead, we are being told by most in the GOP leadership that the nation’s citizens now have to pivot to Trump.

This is simply unacceptable to many people. We have every reason to be alarmed by almost every thing this administration does because almost every day we hear something, well, alarming. I’ll be the first to say that sharing every post from Occupy Democrats and The Daily Kos is probably not doing any good. But people are starting to realize that they can do something about it.

They can hold their elected representatives in Congress accountable if they are playing party politics and not providing the proper check on the Executive branch that they are required to under the Constitution. It’s what the Tea Party did after all. They can engage in civil discourse on social media with people of different beliefs. [This is not a fairy tale. I have witnessed it, been party to it. Things just do downhill quickly when someone shows up employing any one of many argumentative logical fallacies. Don’t let them.] No one can change the outcome of the election, but they don’t have to refrain from objecting to policies with which they are not in agreement.

If you think that social media cannot change things, I have news for you. It may have altered enough of the vote to sway the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election:

Meticulously sourced London School of Economics blog post

Motherboard article on Cambridge Analytica

I know we’d all like to think we are too smart and savvy to be influenced  by what we see surfing the good ole ‘net. But lots of sciencey people are discovering evidence to the contrary.

I’m hoping that things die down a little bit too. We can’t keep up this heightened state of agitation everyday for the next four years—or longer. I can do without all the memetic jokes and skewered commentary and manufactured outrage, but complaining about people who try to engage in political discourse in order to inform, offer opposing views and learn from others is antithetical to social media. It is, after all, where we talk about anything and everything.

In the meantime, remember you can ignore all the political posts and just scroll right on by them. That’s what I have been doing to all the nauseating Pinterest posts for years now. 😛


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