Facebook Fight

I love me a good Facebook fight.

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I’m not proud, but will admit to engaging in a few here and there, usually in a quest to educate people who are quick to spout off regarding subjects about which they know nothing other than their gut instinct but, as it happens, I do happen to know a thing or two.  I had one rather epic Facebook fight about a year ago which began on the page of someone who I had gone to high school with and have not laid eyes on since.  I vividly recall her being obnoxious and annoying in her teens, but, given the passage of 35 years, gave her the benefit of the doubt and assumed she’d outgrown her pubescent ways.  I couldn’t have been more mistaken.  In fact, she had not only amped up her same game, but managed to surround herself with like-minded people who made the very serious mistake of getting into a debate with me over any- and everything transgender related.  By the end of a thread, which, FYI, would go on (and on) for an entire afternoon and into the evening, I knew that the only thing I had truly accomplished was getting myself all worked up.  So I did what any self-respecting middle-aged woman would do: I got in the car, bought a new pair of shoes and thoroughly enjoyed an ice cream cone the size of my head.

 

More recently, in the interest of keeping my blood pressure within normal range (and with the notable exception of this blog) I have steered clear of discussing politics, 45, or anything else controversial, choosing, instead, to be an actively passive observer of folks who are so worked up and upset about everything that they are not only willing to engage, but are vigorously gunning for a good fight.  And, not for nothing, they are having no trouble finding one.

Just this morning I scrolled through my Facebook news feed and was greeted by the smiling faces of kids off to school, heartbreaking stories and horrifying photos of what is left of Texas, several  birthday reminders and, perhaps most interesting: a steady stream of commentary regarding Melania T’s choice of shoes – Manolo Blahnik BB pumps, with 4” heels, which you, too, can have for  $595 –and the arguments in either direction were fierce.

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There were posts describing her and her choice as “disgusting”.  There were posts describing her and her choice as “ridiculous”.  There were posts describing her and her choice as “insensitive”, “impractical” and “inappropriate”.  And, on the flip side, there were there an equal number of posts admonishing all those aforementioned original posts in which the original posters were told that their opinion about and disdain for FLOTUS was” bullying”, “body shaming” and “ridiculous”.

And so was born a Facebook fight.

 

Being an actively passive observer, I can tell you that every one of those posts was followed by long threads of steadily more aggressive responses and replies to responses and emoticons and GIFs and tangents and generalized antagonism which, in my opinion, may or may not have had anything to do with the shoes in question.  In fact, just for sport I could make strong arguments in support or defense of MT’s MB’s.…but it’s not about the shoes.  It is, however, about what life has become for many of us.

While I can only speak for myself, I am fairly confident that many would agree that they, too, are feeling anxious, overwhelmed, exhausted, overwrought, uncomfortable, out of control, pessimistic and uncertain…none of which are any fun.  I’d further contend that it is far easier to relieve some of these feelings by engaging in a Facebook fight about something as banal and truly unimportant as someone’s (I don’t care who it is, frankly) shoes.  Now, before you get all up in my face about her role, public perception, her sugar daddy husband, the circumstances blah blah blah, please hear this: I am not judging anyone for getting into it.  In fact, on a different day or hour I, too, might shoot off a few barbs myself, but today I just wasn’t feeling it.

Our country and our lives are all in turmoil.  Mother Nature is as pissed off as she’s ever been.  Our leadership appears to be jerry-built and, with each day, it crumbles a little bit.  The cost of living is ridiculous.  Colleges are charging upwards of $50,000 per year in tuition, room and board.  If you are a woman who made the choice to take time off of work to be with her kids, you are screwed when you try to find a job at the tender age of 52.  And that health insurance that we all need? …yeah, the promise of its availability is tenuous at best.  The changes to so much of what we thought we knew have been fast and furious, leaving so many feeling vulnerable and defenseless.  With such a loss of emotional power – real or perceived – It’s no wonder we glom onto opining, condemning and assailing something as insipid and inconsequential as a pair of shoes.

And maybe, just maybe, Mrs. T. chose her footwear for the same reason I have a different pair of Birkies for every day of the week: because it made her feel just a little bit better…

 

So, yeah, I love me a good Facebook fight, just not this one.

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Broken

Yesterday, I posted a link on my Facebook page to a video that chronicled, in horrifying detail, the incivility and depravity that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend.  The message of the film -which if you have not already, I strongly encourage you watch  – left little room for interpretation, spelling out the mission of the angry white men in the plainest language possible: “Jews will not replace us.”  It was not much further into the film that the blacks, gays and anyone else who was not a carbon copy of these were similarly vilified.

There is even a chilling moment when these animals gaily chanted “Heil, Cantwell”, complete with the raised arm,  not only in deference but also great admiration of the head barbarian of this dangerous and heavily armed white supremacist group who, by their own admission, were hoping for violence.  These “men”, who, despite the “President’s” comments that some are “very fine people” are actually, to a person, the very definition of horrible people.

And they all have mothers who I pray are as horrified as I am.

As I watched with my 15 year-old daughter who happens to be both transgender and Jewish the terror of what is happening in our world began to sink in. I felt physically ill.  This is not the world I want for my children.

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We all worry that we are mis-parenting, doing too much or too little for our kids, and making decisions that might negatively impact them for whatever reason.  We work to the best of our ability to guide them in such a way that they are able to become the best versions of themselves.  We hope that they are better, stronger, braver, more confident and more successful than we are.  And we work every day to achieve that goal. So how did we, as a community of diverse people, elect a man to the presidency who not only shares these feelings of supremacy but encourages them?

And now we are all broken.

The followers of neo-Nazism, the KKK and anyone with even a shred of white supremacist thinking are so broken that they seek to yield their power in the most frightening and dangerous way possible.  But the rest of us are broken in that we are dispirited, and fearful, and appalled and terrified and, perhaps worst of all, growing hopeless.

Even more astounding, the “President” not only encourages and refuses to condemn this behavior, but I believe he actually gets off on it.  He has sanctioned it not only by his own conduct – grabbed any pussy lately, sir? – but also by his bombastic, irreverent, misogynistic and boorish manifesto which, for reasons I simply cannot fathom, did not preclude him from being elected to the highest office in the land.  As Jimmy Kimmel put it in this video – which would be funnier if it weren’t so damn accurate – he just wants to be a King.

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When my little boy first began to the transition to become the awesome daughter I now have, she engaged in some degree of hysteria and more than a little button pushing.  At the same time, her big brother did some of his own muscle flexing, trying to find his place.  A mantra quickly fell into place:

I don’t care if you are a boy, a girl, a dog or a Martian…but you cannot be an asshole.

Clearly, no one ever used this refrain with any of these “men” (our “President” included) as they seem to care very much if you are a boy, a girl, a dog, a Martian, a Jew, a gay, a Black, a Muslim, an animated character or anything that is not them.

Yes, we are broken, but like the twice shattered glass of the Boston Holocaust Memorial, we will be put back together.

Be kind.  Be accepting.  Be generous of spirit.  Hold doors for people, no matter their color, gender or religion.  Protect one another.  And try to stay strong…