For over 4 months, I have been 100% Facebook-free. Some of you may have seen my explanation, which I posted for a few days before completely deactivating my account. Others may not have seen it but wondered why my account suddenly disappeared from the site. Most, I'm sure, didn't even notice. But regardless, I ended up learning quite a bit about myself and the world around me. What I learned convinced me to return.
The short version of this story is that all of the positive and negative things that I hoped and worried would happen, did.
For example, without a doubt, leaving the mindless political battlefield (ie: Facebook) drastically improved my mental well-being. Within the first two days I noticed significant improvements in my mood and mental state. It was freeing. And at first, it almost felt enlightening. To not feel the impulse to habitually open up Facebook during every free second or two that I had throughout the day was, for lack of a better word, amazing. Not only was I able to completely avoid the daily bigotry of some of my friends and family, I no longer felt like I might be wasting my day away with my face in my phone. I felt empowered to be in-the-moment, to be "here". It really felt like the perfect solution for me.
But then November 8 happened.
I know this is incredibly cliché to say, but when I woke up the morning of the 9th, it literally felt as though I was in a dream. Everything felt unreal. I went to work that day, but I honestly didn't get a thing done. It's accurate to say that I was shocked like most people – I don't think that even the majority of Trump's supporters really believed that his successful election to office was possible. (Of course, we could get into the analysis of how many people actually voted and for whom, but that's a discussion for another time).
But that isn't what truly bothered me. What I have been trying to come to terms with is the fact that people like Mike Pence will now soon be in the White House. Additionally, Conservatives have taken majorities in Congress, and Trump has already sworn to appoint socially conservative Justices to the Supreme Court.
This obviously seems like good news for Republicans. And for most Democrats, this might just be a setback that we can start addressing in 2 to 4 years. However, for me this is personal. People like Pence are on record for wanting to marginalize those of us in the LGBT community (and frankly anyone else who does not consider themselves "Christian").
In recent years, we have been making fast and significant progress towards true equality. We were on a train barreling straight towards a future in which I (and other LGB1 people) could live basically normal adulthoods. "Normal" here meaning "not having to worry about fighting for our equality or feeling scared to walk down the street."
However, a Trump/Pence Administration will put all of that at risk for me and all LGBT people. That train towards progress has unceremoniously lurched to a halt, and we've all been kicked off and told to walk the rest of the way. If Trump/Pence follow through with what they've been promising over the years, then there is little hope that LGBT folks of my generation will ever get to live a "normal" adult life.
I admit, that was something I took for granted. I came out in a very accepting environment (aka: "college"), and with all the progress we'd made since I came out (in 2012), I apparently took for granted the fact that that progress might never slow down (or, god forbid, reverse). It was a future that I selfishly wish could honestly be mine. But over the past week or so since the election results, I have come to terms with the fact that that future is unlikely to ever be mine.
My generation now must give up the idea of that future and instead commit to return to the fight for our rights. Please stop and take a moment to consider that. That is now my future. It has to be! It's the only way we can ensure that the next generation might have that "normal" adulthood that I assumed would be mine.
Not only do we have to fight against the legal/political system, though, we also have to fight all the "deplorable" members of our society who are now empowered by Trump's victory. It doesn't take any time at all to find dozens upon dozens of heartbreaking cases of murder, violence, and all other sorts of abuse against LGBT people explicitly in the name of Trump. And it's not like the people responsible are new to the country; they've been here the whole time.
So what I've realized is, I can no longer selfishly put my psychological comfort first. Keeping myself willfully ignorant is a convenience that I (and future LGBT generations) can't actually afford.
So one of the main reasons I am coming back to Facebook is to ensure that I pop my peacefully ignorant bubble. I need to see the shit that goes on amongst my friends and family. And I need to take all appropriate opportunities to attempt to educate those that need it. (I don't plan on stopping there, either. There are countless opportunities for me to volunteer and make a difference, and I plan to seek those out as well – as soon as I decide how best to volunteer my time). This might upset and/or annoy some of you – and if I loose relationships because of it, the so be it. I have realized a purpose bigger than you or me alone.
Politics aside, there is one more reason that I want to come back to Facebook: I miss my friends. Turns out that life in general keeps me quite busy, and because of that, I've almost always had to turn down offers from my friends to hang out. And honestly, it breaks my heart. To my friends who have read this far: I do miss you guys with all my heart. I hope you guys haven't completely given up on me... Unfortunately, we are in the holiday season now, so getting schedules to line up probably won't be any easier than usual, but after the holidays wind down, I fully intend to try and rekindle what I've missed out on all these months/years. I hope we can work something out!
In the meantime, hopefully we can start to reconnect again virtually. This is what Facebook is really supposed to be about anyway, right? I look forward to it!
So there you have it. I broke my word – here I am, back on Facebook! But given how things have worked out, I just don't see how I can let myself stay away. I won't rule out any future need for me to take periodic breaks every once and a while. My mental health does need to come first on occasion... But at least for now, I don't see how that can be a permanent arrangement.
If anyone feels like chatting about it, please send me a message or post a comment below! I'm happy to talk about it!
I intentionally left out the "T" because, let's face it, we still have SIGNIFICANT work to do in the name of Transgender rights – even under a Obama or Clinton Administration. ↩