Things are getting political all up in here (“here” being “the United States of America”), which means it’s time for everybody (everybody who is anybody, of course) to be sick of politics. The onslaught of “I hate politics!” has made me think about what people are actually trying to say when they post this type of update.
#1: I Don’t Care About Politics
Here is what the status update is trying to say: “I’m too cool to worry about politics. I am so cool, in fact, that I love to drink! I’m cool.” Duh, if you’re cool, you wouldn’t drink a cocktail. Cocktails are for wussies.
#2: I Think I Don’t Care About Politics
I can’t tell whether this is saying that all Americans hate the president or America has been taken over by a non-American (because, I don’t know if you know this, but he’s Black), but while the person is trying to say that there’s no need to drag politics into it, they…can’t. It’s like a wannabe hipster, trying to pull of not caring about looking cool – it’s so hard to actually not give a shit!
#3: FACEBOOK IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT POLITICS!
Translation: I don’t care, and it annoys me when other people do. Stop it! Stop it!
I’d really love to not give a shit about politics and focus on what’s really important, like a picture of my kid with sweet potatoes all over her face, or a long-winded complaint about the traffic jam I got caught in, or my exercise schedule for the week. But I can’t.
Because politics is everything. Politics affect the safety of the sweet potatoes that I bought and pureed for my kid, and how much time I get to take off work to raise her, and they will affect her education, health, and career for the rest of her life. Politicians decide which roads will be repaired, how much to pay the traffic police to clear up accidents, and what kinds of cars are safe for driving in. Politicians have control over the air quality as I jog, and they have control over the resources available to rescue workers if I get hit by a car.
But but but! Social media is “supposed to be about sharing our lives with each other”! Not arguing about politics!
To pretend that politics has no role in our lives is to be blind. Democracies work because everybody gets to have a say in the direction of their country, and that direction shapes every aspect of our lives. The person I am today would be very different if I had grown up under Stalin, or in an FLDS compound. There is no me without politics. There is no social media without politics, because there is no social fabric.
The thing about Facebook is that it offers a channel for instant gratification. Say something awesome in a crowded room, and a few people might nod, if you’re lucky. Write something awesome as a status update, and BAM! Thirty people have told you they like it. The person who posts a status update bitching about the way other people use Facebook is not actually upset about politics on their newsfeed, because there is a simple solution to that: unfriend or hide. Instead, they are looking for attention, attempting to portray a “cooler than thou” image, I’m the kind of person who skips algebra class to go smoke in the woodshop because learning is for losers. It’s not that I’m too ignorant or brainwashed to understand politics, but instead, I have transcended them. Lookatme, I am awesome.
But you aren’t. Not giving a shit seems cool in high school, but twenty years later, many of those people are working 60 hours a week at Walmart to make ends meet, or trying desperately to quit smoking, or going back to school to make up for what they missed. Not giving a shit about politics might garner you some “yeah! I’m so sick of it too!” comments, but politics matter. What kind of a country do you want to live in? What kind of regulations do you want, what kind of services do you want, what kind of economics do you want, what kind of – everything – do you want? Being above politics means that in twenty years, your world will have passed you by and you have nobody to blame but yourself.
There are times when I don’t want to talk about politics, and I understand if it’s clogging up your newsfeed and you are looking for a break from it. But that’s what the “x” next to the updates are for. The “I’m too busy/cool/interesting/spiritual to even read about politics” crap is just that – crap. None of us exists in a vacuum. The short burst of adrenaline that comes from getting a “like” on a status may make you feel good for a second, but ignoring politics has the potential to make you feel bad for the rest of your life.