Scared, worried, angry, frustrated, sick and tired of the constant stream of selfishness, stupidity and downright evil that crashes like a tsunami on a daily basis. Yes, that’s me these days, and I know I’m not alone.
Last night I finally admitted out loud that I was feeling greatly agitated, depressed and sad about the state of the world, and that it would probably be a good idea for me to step back from social media and even from my trusted news sources, at least for a while. For the last few weeks I’ve found myself obsessively scouring Facebook, faithfully clicking the “like” button for posts I agree with. (Which, of course, are all of them in my news feed, because I don’t follow anyone I disagree with.) My echo chamber is operating on a 24/7 basis and feeds my anger, sadness, frustration and fear of what is happening now and even more dark and scary, what is going to happen over the coming year or so.
What’s an elderly, liberal white female, quickly melting snowflake to do here?
My resolve to avoid social media lasted until 6 AM this morning. I’d like to give myself credit for waiting almost two hours after I crawled out of bed before turning on my computer, and even more credit for resisting comment and shutting Facebook down quickly. But that doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment when there is just so damn much hard, uncomfortable work waiting to be done to move the world even a metaphorical inch in the right direction.
There’s an urban myth claiming that a frog can be cooked if put into tepid water first and then slowly heated up, as opposed to dropping it into boiling water which it will immediately sense as a danger. (Please don’t try this at home, or contact me with animal rights vitriol because it is a myth and I am simply using it as a metaphor for our national and social life.)
What may have started out as a pot with tepid water over a low flame, is now a scorching hot, boiling mess that has drowned thousands of my fellow Americans, and provides a body count that rises on a daily basis. So I ask again, what’s an elderly, liberal white female, quickly melting snowflake to do here?
- Withdraw from the daily posting, reposting and “liking” of all the witty and sarcastic posts as well as all the painfully obvious questions like “who agrees that Obama was a better president” or “who thinks Trump should be hauled out of the White House in handcuffs?” I do, but is this constant posting and reposting constructive at all, beyond making us feel right and justified in our opinions? Yes, my friends, I agree with you, the Republican party is out of control, they don’t care about the rest of us, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, Covid is real and scary dangerous. So now what?
- Use Facebook constructively–for keeping up with friends and following groups that are doing work I support. Like many others, I have serious questions about Facebook, and am troubled by how much money is flowing into the pockets of Mark Zuckerberg. (With a net worth of $86.5 billion he has become the fourth-richest person in the world. Forbes, May 23, 2020.) Perhaps in the future I will withdraw altogether; however, given the distancing and other precautions necessary due to Covid-19, I am still going to use it. (I am especially glad I gave in to temptation this morning because an artist friend had posted something so pertinent and beautiful that I had to share it at the end of this post!)
- Accept that my contribution to any positive change is going to seem inadequate, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Giving as much financial support as I can to groups that are working for the change I want to see. Participating in projects aimed at increasing voter participation. Phoning an elderly neighbor just to ease the isolation we all feel. Remembering to thank friends who work in health care. As Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
- Participate in on-line worship opportunities. No, it’s not the same as praying in person, but now I am able to “attend” services at different synagogues and expand my Jewish horizons. It’s also a commitment to the greater good of caring for my personal emotional health and our well-being as a community.
- Take advantage of on-line learning opportunities, and follow blogs and websites of people from different cultural and racial backgrounds. Through the Internet we have great opportunity to “meet” and learn about people we probably would never encounter otherwise.
I know there are many other ways to cope constructively with this situation. What is keeping you focused and sane these days?
©Martha Hurwitz, 7/9/20