Jaye Watson weighs in on what the election has done to communities and reminds us of the humans behind it all
The low point for me was when a neighbor had a sign stolen from her yard and posted about it in the security section of our neighborhood website. Fifty commenters chastised her for the name on that sign. They made fun of where she was from (another country). They asked how much she would pay to get the sign back if they had it in their garage.
The woman whose sign was stolen responded to the comments — upset she would likely see some of the commenters as she took her children trick or treating that night.
These were neighbors.
The ones we count on to watch our kid if we can’t beat the bus home. The ones who organize a food train for an ailing parent on a street. The ones who have a glass of wine together in the front yard on a balmy evening. The ones who give their kid’s hand me downs to the youngster up the street. The ones who show up to PTA meetings. The ones who teach Sunday school. The ones who pay their taxes and give to charity and sock money away for college and retirement.
We have turned on each other.
I’ve lost count of how many friendships met bitter ends on Facebook. Because you’re an idiot if you vote for him/her. Because you’re not the person I thought you were if you could vote for her/him. How could you? How dare you! There are many !!!!exclamation!!!! points and copious cursing and insults hurled with Herculean force. I’ve read comment threads that made my heart pound and my face turn red. My husband (who left Facebook months ago) has said to me, “Stop doing this to yourself.”
I can’t. I must be a witness to the end of civility. I can’t look away because I’m part of it.
I am so sad what has happened to us.
We have reduced each other to our vote. You may argue it’s okay to do so. This election matters!!!! Much is at stake!!!! The end is nigh!!!!!
Someone is going to be elected president tonight. Facebook will be electrified with hate and gloating and anger and despair — half celebrating, half despondent.
And then what?
Tomorrow will come and we will wake up and get our kids to school and go to work and at some point realize we didn’t thaw out the chicken for dinner.
In other words, life will go on.
In the 1980 election, my parents split their vote, one for Reagan and one for Carter. I only dragged the truth out of them a few years ago — who voted for whom. My father believed (and still does, which means mom told me) that one’s vote is a private decision based on your core values. Boy, do I miss those days.
It’s okay to be worried about the direction of our country, to fear that terrible things could happen if so-and-so is elected, but I can promise you we don’t feel this way because of what you posted on Facebook. There is no converting, only commiserating, and while it feels endorphin-rush good, I’ve also seen it devolve into screw-you bad.
Let’s accept we’re disappointed/deeply troubled/terrified by the other’s poor choice. Feel free to fret over what it says about their character. Pray for their sorry soul.
Then move the hell on.
The woman whose sign was stolen received some private message apologies from neighbors who said they reacted inappropriately. They were welcome band aids on a painful wound.
Neither candidate is going to invite my child over to play or talk me through a tough week or invite me to their Christmas open house.
After today, one thing remains certain — we are stuck with each other.
When my husband and I bicker, my secret weapon retort is, “Shoe’s on the other foot. How would you feel?”
For half of our country tonight, the shoe will be on the other foot.
Please think about that before you post.
Jaye Watson is an anchor and storyteller for 11Alive. This post originally appeared on her blog.