On the day the now-president of the United States refused a question from a CNN reporter during a press conference, and labelled the outlet “fake news,” I was as outraged as millions in the US and around the world. Trump was setting a dangerous standard, one which journalists were already familiar with in Russia and Turkey.
I sat down to write about the dangerous course we were taking and by the time I opened a new Word document, there was a new outrage. And then another one and another one. It’s exhausting to try to keep up, which is likely part of the plan.
I vacillated for a while between thinking the Trumpsters have a master plan, which made me feel like a tinfoil hat was in my future, or that they’re aging frat boys trying to hang on to their glory days, spouting words they don’t understand, but read in a big book, in an attempt to keep the attention off the new, cooler kids. But that minimizes the damage they’re causing.
After reading about the new administration’s first order of business, and its second and third, I’ve stocked up on tinfoil. We’re going to need it. Yes, even in Canada. We’re not immune to the damage caused by American policies, but more than that, we’re not immune to the insidious spread of hate and fear mongering. It’s already happening; people are afraid of losing whatever it is they have and are encouraged by groups with vested interest to blame the others for it. The others: women, immigrants, the LGBT community, anyone not white…the list is endless.
Fun fact: the ones now judging the others were others not too many years ago, but people’s memories are sketchy when it comes to their self-interest. Crack open the history of Irish, or Italian, or German immigrants to Canada for a refresher on how they were treated.
But fuck the others. All of Canada’s (and the US’s and Europe’s) problems are their fault, right?
I am tired of fighting with people about how stupid this thought is, and how stupid their backwards, racist, xenophobic, misogynistic—I’m running out of space—little brains are. I don’t need to mince my words, or play nice, or listen to them spew hatred. This isn’t a difference between liberal and conservative politics, it’s not “another way of looking at things,” this is the difference between right and wrong, and I know where I stand.
The back and forth on social media reminds me of Star Trek episodes where the captain bucked the prime directive and made contact with a less advanced society. Maybe the less advanced society had redeeming qualities, but understanding what they saw in front of them wasn’t one of those qualities.
There are so many dangerous and damaging changes happening, but the one that scares me the most is the attack on the press. A free press tells the truth, as uncomfortable as it is at times. It’s not a mouthpiece for a government regime. We need them to stay vigilant, we need them to hold our leaders accountable, and they need us to support them.
I’m not a journalist. I’m a woman who can string words together and who has zero interest in remaining impartial. And I’m tired. I can’t change the world with my Facebook posts, although I’ll still write there, so I needed a plan.
Don’t engage with stupid.
You don’t need this kind negativity in your life. This doesn’t mean you’re ignorant of differing opinions; simply that nothing good comes of arguing on social media. It will sap your strength for what needs to be done, and there’s work to do.
Get the facts, not alternative facts.
Years ago most people accepted that supermarket tabloid headlines that shouted Reagan Caught Having Sex with Alien were ridiculous and scoffed at anyone who took them seriously. The internet is now the supermarket tabloid you can’t escape from, and people who once rolled their eyes at lizard babies accept as gospel what they read online.
Subscribe to real newspapers and magazines that employ real journalists, either online or in print. Dan Rather is also kicking ass on Facebook and he links out to legitimate news sources.
And here’s a cheat sheet of what to look for in real news:
Image source: Imgur
Use real names.
A Nazi by any other name is still a Nazi, so call things as they are. What if the truth of these words makes people uncomfortable on Facebook? Tough. We don’t get to hide and ignore things that make us uncomfortable. There are people everywhere whose safety depends on us not ignoring it.
Pick a cause that you feel passionate about and make your voice count. My husband, our two kids, and our friends joined 60,000 or so of our closest friends for the Women’s March on Washington – Toronto edition, to help send a message that we’re not going to accept shit going down on our watch.
I saw grandmas walking with their granddaughters, dads and daughters, mothers and sons, girlfriends, boyfriends, sisters, and friends of all ages, religions, colour, stand together with one common purpose and it was incredible. Even more incredible are the images of the millions around the world who did the same, in unity. What a day.
It’s only the beginning; now we need to get dirty and help with the real work of enacting change and preventing a return to the dark ages.
Take a breather.
We need sustained outrage to fuel action, but we also need to step back so we don’t run out of juice. Pick your poison. Mine is to escape to the woods or to the farm–where the wifi is iffy–and play with ponies.
PEOPLE! THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE! Take stock of what you can do and join the bucket brigade.