Covid left me with very little energy, but I did find the time to do one thing I know I shouldn’t do: engage in online political arguments with strangers. It all started with that damn Jason Aldean song and its racist undertones and threats of vigilante justice. I mean… how could people NOT see it??
And so, in my ever-eager quest to save the world from its own shortsightedness, I tried to come to the table (weary and achy, but armed nonetheless) with facts, history, and logic.
My dear and wise friend Angela once texted me, “Do Not Argue Online!! It’s a fool’s errand and you’re no fool. Save your hard won sanity and serenity. GOP politics are all culture war. And at this moment in history, Republicans hate the other side. They don’t disagree with us, they think we’re evil. They will never find common ground because who would find common ground with evil? Obviously, we’re social justice warriors, but I want to focus on what I can change/educate/empower/ally with. And that’s not any MAGA online.”
I can’t seem to help myself.
I have this little spark inside of me that says, “But… but… but… if I can open just ONE mind, isn’t it worth it?”
I hearken back to that story of the man throwing starfish back into the sea, one by one. “You can’t save them all,” his companion said. “But I made a difference to that one,” he replied as he flung it back into the ocean.
I want to save the starfish.
That doesn’t mean I want the starfish to believe in the same gods I do or don’t believe in. I don’t want them to like the same songs I like. That’s what makes us human, after all… our unique differences. I just want them to recognize racism and homophobia and social injustice. But the hate and closed-mindedness is mind boggling. I mean, trans people have been around forever. Why have they suddenly become Public Enemy #1? I just don’t understand why we can’t live and let live.
I mentioned during my exhausting and unproductive conversation online that I had personally experienced the benefits of heteronormative privilege, but I didn’t know I was experiencing them until I came out. Being called a “dyke bitch” and being threatened simply because of who I was was eye-opening, and it made me much more empathetic toward other minorities. During that conversation, I was told there was no such thing as heteronormative privilege and that being called a “dyke bitch” was only an attack if I allowed myself to be victimized by it.
This woman said she had been called a “dyke bitch” plenty of times in her life because of how she looked. I explained that being called a name because of your appearance versus being called a name because of your identity is a very different beast. She wasn’t having it.
By the end of this online debacle, I was drained, sad, and defeated. It’s obviously still taking up real estate in my brain and in my heart. I know Angela is right. My energies are better spent elsewhere.
But then what becomes of the starfish?