Recently, I saw a call-to-action meme going around that said something like this:
"Go to Trump, Clinton, and Johnson's pages and find out how many of your friends like them! Repost with the numbers!"
Several friends and members of my family shared it and posted their stats, and I saw a disturbing trend: high, uneven numbers. People celebrated that they had a statistically insignificant number of friends celebrating the other candidate, high-fiving their clique for being in total agreement.
This is not safe. Historically, this is the kind of communal petri dish that breeds fear of the unknown, whether innocuously ("wait, there are people who like The Yankees?) to dangerous and hateful ("I'm glad I don't know any trans people; they must be sick").
When I was in high school, I had essentially one group of friends; we had identical political, theological, and general views and tastes. As a grad student, I see glaringly opposing posts daily in my feed, both on Facebook (ie, people I know personally) and Twitter (ie, people I follow but may not have a relationship with). It makes indoctrination difficult; I have to watch my mouth to make sure that the opinions I make public are hills I'm willing to die on. I'm glad that this is the case; I don't get to luxuriate in my own bigotry, privilege, ignorance, or even my own rightness. How can I be sure of justice if I only talk to my self-appointed Cabinet and engage in the "just us" mentality?
I have to admit that I didn't try very hard to get out of my bubble; it happened because I moved states, studied abroad, got involved in theatre, and kept my old people around. I understand that I will have to eventually work hard to get opinions from across the aisles and spectrums. I worry that, if I expose myself to a limited number of opinions, I will give into the fear that comes with believing the opposing view is evil. It's hard to notice the plank in my eye when all my friends have the same one.
Engaging exclusively with the same opinions dulls the human sense of empathy and compassion; it makes the other side sound foreign and dangerous, not just different. It makes it harder to believe that my Samaritan neighbors are doing the best they can to be good people. This does not just apply to strict red/blue politics. It applies to races, sexualities, academic interests, sports teams, musical taste, and even the foods we're willing to try. Isolationist societies tend to become opinionatedly inbred, unable to imagine the Other as a member of the same grand tribe of humanity. Its not easy to step out of the bubble, but thanks to the internet, it's a lot easier than it used to be.
I had no intention to write about this, but I'm just tired.
I'm so tired of reading about Holocausts. I'm so tired of being told that Blue lives and Black lives can't both matter. I'm so tired of Othering. I don't want to have to teach my children about the years that nothing changed. Hopefully, we as a country can change intergenerationally in a positive way. Getting out of the clique is a small step, I hope, in the right direction.