How have things been in your world for the last week?
Do you still have all your friends?
Over here, in the wake of the election, I seem to be doing my best to alienate plenty of people. It hasn’t been on purpose, and I’m not super happy about it either. But trying to figure out the best way to navigate social media post-election has been hard. Sharing feelings and discussing fears online seems to lead to eye rolling from some and outright hostility from others.
This is the third time in a row I’ve been on the losing side of a presidential election. However, it feels different this year. After the two previous elections, I don’t remember the winners ever being quite so angry or the losers quite so distraught. Maybe it’s because I’m on Twitter this year, and Twitter seems to be ground zero for bad behavior.
On Opposites Sides of a Canyon
While it may be a convenient scapegoat, I don’t think I can blame social media entirely for the post-election fallout many of us might be experiencing. No, I think it’s because never before have we been quite so divided in how we see the world.
It’s like we’re standing on the opposites of a canyon. Not only can we not hear what the other side is saying, we can’t even see where they stand. When I think about where my beliefs diverge from many of my friends, the difference in stark.
- I see the election results as a sign the nation has turned away from God.
- They see the election results as a sign God answers prayers.
- I believe Donald Trump is a danger to democracy.
- They believe Donald Trump is a sign democracy works.
- I can’t understand why anyone would believe a word Donald Trump says.
- They can’t understand why I can’t give Donald Trump a chance.
- My perspective: never has a man been so obviously unfit to be president.
- Their perspective: never has a man been so obviously right for the presidency.
That’s a huge chasm for us to cross! How do we even begin to find common ground?
Struggling to Find the Right Response After the Election
Here’s the thing. The people I find myself disagreeing with aren’t simply personalities and pundits on TV or radio. They are people right here in front of me – friends I love, acquaintances I respect.
I don’t want to lose my relationships with these people. I want to continue to love and respect them, and just as importantly, I want them to continue to love and respect me. And quite frankly, they’re not going to do that if I insist on always pointing out where I think they are wrong and I am right.
After a lot of soul searching over the weekend, I found myself coming back to these points time and time again:
- I need to remember that I can’t change anyone but myself.
- I need to remember that even though I disagree with my friends, we all have a common goal. We all love our country and want what’s best for it. No one voted for Donald Trump thinking he would be the end of democracy.
- I need to remember that we are all doing the best we can with the information we have.
I can’t change how my friends feel about the election and really it doesn’t matter at this point anyway. What’s done is done. Either we get four years of economic prosperity or four years of recession. Four years of peacetime or four years of war. Those things are out of my hands at this point so there’s really no use in railing against someone’s past decisions.
However, here’s where I still struggle:
My moral code – probably thanks to years of Catholic social justice teaching – compels me to point out injustice when I see it. I see a lot of injustice surrounding our president-elect and the behaviors of some of his supporters. So when is it productive to point out those things and when is it beating a dead horse?
Some of my friends would probably say I’m beating a dead horse right now, but I haven’t quite figured out where that line is myself. If you’re one of those friends reading this, I hope you’ll bear with me while I figure it out.
Do you have friends standing on the other side of the canyon? How are you trying to find common ground?
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