Election 2016: On Why I Can’t Take Your Advice

Just turn it off.

They are are well-meaning. They hear I’m struggling, and offer what seems like the quickest, easiest solution.

Just turn it off.  Politics is bullshit, anyway.

So, okay, I turn it off. I don’t have cable, so I’m not watching CNN. I delete the Facebook app and, later, the Twitter app. I fire up YouTube to find some ridiculous and soothing nail art videos and it’s there in the Most Popular videos.

Just don’t watch it.  Do something else.

And so I do something else. A lot of somethings. I go to work, and there it is on the big TVs in the lobby and breakroom, and in the water cooler conversations. I go to Los Angeles, I go to DC. And I get in cabs and there it is, on small screens in the back of the seat. I record podcasts and read books and walk and run with my dog, and it’s there it is in the looming figure of an innocuous man on the far end of the sidewalk.

It’s everywhere.

I can’t turn off what I’ve come to understand is re-lived trauma. It’s doesn’t have a power button, an X in the corner, or even a mute button.

The horror movies I so dearly love and usually immerse myself in every October are filled with women’s bodies being brutalized and manhandled and murdered. Even the decades-old films I usually line up, ones that are from well-funded studios and have smart plots and great acting – even they are upsetting for the numbers of women summarily killed as fodder for those smart plots. Any other time, and I could hold this reality and the truth that even problematic media has merit and entertainment in the same place and enjoy it. But it’s hard. It’s very hard.

So I’m struggling. And I’m supposed to just turn it off. Do something I love.

What I love is feeling safe and like I have the power to make my own decisions. What I love is helping other people, especially people on the margins (so in this election, everyone who isn’t white or male), to feel that, too. What I love is sharing my passion for media and popular culture and using that to help people make informed choices about what they consume, too.

But I can’t even interface with the media right now without feeling like there is a real monster looming.

Why do you dwell on the negative so much?  It doesn’t personally affect you.

But it does. And it affects everyone in this country – even those who agree that those of the Muslim faith shouldn’t join our melting pot, or that the disabled should be mocked, or that consensual sexual behavior is a lot less important than locker room talk  – we are all affected. The coarseness of public dialog, the permeability of truth, the deeper and deeper division between people who are human and need one another – this will be the undoing of us all.

If you can’t care about that, or understand that, or even just sit with me and understand I’m in pain, let alone use your privilege to stand up for those who have none, then I wish you luck, but I won’t be taking your advice.

I won’t move on.

I won’t just turn it off.

I won’t be silent so that you are more comfortable.