So, how did your work day go on Wednesday? My day wasn’t the greatest. I felt on edge all day, not just from lack of sleep the night before (worry can do that to a body and mind) but from the angry and upset feelings populating my Twitter feed. My supervisor dared to ask us, “So, did you stay up last night?” in a jovial yet truly non-political way. I, however, in a respectful and concerned tone, asked her to, please, don’t bring up politics. She said she wasn’t. She insisted she wasn’t. She was straight-faced when she said it (literally straight-faced). And she is truly the non-political type; indeed, she never talks politics. But I held too firm. I could tell she felt a sense of offense as she walked back to her cubicle. No, I wasn’t raising my own voice in anger or upset. It was just that I didn’t want to talk politics at the office. And I never want to do so. But I felt as if I had just stepped into a deep pile of… well, you know, embarrassment. (You thought I was going to use the s-word there, didn’t you? Well, it was that, too.)
While I carried a lot of anger inside me, I was cautious enough to not let it out at work, as the incident described above confirms. I’m not the type to let anger out at work; it’s unprofessional to do so, and besides, it can get me into a lot of hot water. But I wasn’t above letting off steam online. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I let off a little bit of steam toward an internationally acclaimed author. I won’t name her, but she tweeted that it’s best to know who you want to be in a situation such as… well, what’ we’ve gone through in the past 36+ hours. In other words, be the calm person and not let anyone capitalize on your anger. I wasn’t hearing any of it, not when that [*expletive deleted*] won the presidency and he and his cohorts are about to ruin the lives of those in the LGBTQA community I deeply care about and empathize over. No, she didn’t reply to my tweet… although someone else added it to her list of liked tweets, so there’s that.
At least I was far from the only person online feeling sad, upset, scared, angry, downright fired up, or whatever similar emotions yesterday. Social media is an amazing thing: It can bring us to unite in everything from joy and jubilation to shock and despondence. But it can also divide us, or at least help to divide us. Sadly, I’ve seen news since Tuesday of various minority groups being harassed, either online or in real life, by extremists. To use an example, someone I follow on Twitter (I won’t name who) blocked 500 of her social media followers for their hateful (and presumably some anti-LGBT) post-election comments. Five hundred!! That’s the concern I have had — and as it turns out, a legitimate one — about how our general society will behave not just this week but in the next four years. Yes, we should be concerned. Yes, we should be scared. Yes, we should be angry at the haters who will not only spew hateful words at us online but will go so far as to, say, take a baseball bat at a peaceful Muslim family or a woman walking hand-in-hand with her girlfriend down a city street.
But then, I couldn’t shake what that the above referenced author tweeted. Know what person you should be in a situation like this. Do not let anyone control your emotions for their own gain. And the more I thought of what she said, the more I realized… she’s right. Well, mostly right. We should still be angry. We should still be upset. We should still be concerned. But it’s the channeling of that anger and upset and concern towards positive thoughts, words, and actions that’s the key. It’s hard to do. I admit it’s hard for me to do, and I can get upset very easily. But it’s the right thing to do. We may fall of the wagon and let that anger eat our souls, but still channeling those negatives into positives has to be the right thing to do.
At least I know there are others I follow or who have seen online who are as upset and scared about this week’s events as I am, but they are trying to take the high road. I’ll share a few of them here:
- Stephen Colbert stayed busy on Election Night, even as CBS was busy with the returns. He did a live-to-air special on Showtime that tried to poke fun at the results and the campaign. I say “tried to” there because the outcome, which was still uncertain yet increasing in possibility as the special progressed, cast a deep pall over the proceedings. Hence, the jokes fell flat. Nobody was in a mood to laugh. But Colbert saved the special’s best moment for last. He closed a broadcast that went 20 minutes over its originally allotted time with a somewhat rambling (perhaps improvised?) yet comforting and inspirational pep talk, encouraging his audience to get out of their seats with a fire-and-brimstone-like call-and-respond message about getting back up and respecting each other, no matter who we may have voted for and supported. He does seem to acknowledge that fear will now rule, but he advises us to not lose heart, saying, “You can’t laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery.” It is perhaps the most powerful message I’ve ever seen Stephen Colbert present, and it’s so much much-see stuff that I’ve embedded it below. (Watch out, for there are some swear words; it was on premium cable, after all.)
- Pandora Boxx took to Huffington Post to write some day-after thoughts, reminding us that mankind has always been manipulated, reality television-style, into believing in this or that or fearing the other. Pandora reminds us it’s not a perfect world and that we won’t always get along with those who are not exactly like us (“Why? We wouldn’t believe it. We’d always think something was wrong.”). She also advises us to look not only within ourselves but down history in order to learn how to take conflict and turn it upside down in order to overcome adversity. “The right side has always had to fight the hardest against the darkness,” she advises.
- One of Stephen Colbert’s fellow late night hosts, Seth Meyers, spent 9 minutes and 30 seconds of his Wednesday night show to talk about the outcome of the election. (Kudos to NBC for posting this awesome talk before it aired later that night on the network.) Yeah, Seth’s disappointed by the outcome, not over one candidate’s political affiliations but because a part of him was hopeful to see a woman be elected president on Tuesday night. And he’s still hopeful that will happen, as he reminds the viewer, “Someone’s daughter is out there right now who will one day have that title [President of the United States] … and whoever you are, I hope I live to see your inauguration.” Just as I feel Colbert’s Tuesday night remarks were some of the best he’s ever done, I feel the same about Seth’s Wednesday nigh talk; and I hope that just like Seth, we’ll all get to see a female president in our lifetime, whomever and wherever she may be right now.
- And then there is the actress Danielle Langlois. She took to YouTube on Wednesday and offered the video I’ve also embedded below. Danielle describes herself as “a patriot, a centrist, and an optimist.” But she also describes herself as a daily work in progress. And with that, she proceeds to make several promises, including: To keep her implicit biases in check. To try to put herself in another person’s shoes before making judgment. To do her best to lift everyone’s spirits (which we really need right now, to be honest). To teach her future children to respect others. To listen and engage in a positive way with others online. To not unfriend others online unless they show real malice. Danielle presents her promises in a grim and emotional yet calm and measured way. I was stone-faced when I watched it, not because I didn’t feel her emotion. On the contrary, I felt the weight of her every word, and I found myself agreeing or empathizing with what she said. It’s a powerful message.