So this is my first “story” on Medium, and what properly considered is my first ‘blog’ post in at least five years. I’m going to do my best to be succinct while also covering a number of wide-ranging points, but tl;dr my message is simple: please vote, and please find some form of social/civil involvement that fits your physical, mental, and emotional needs, and make that involvement a heartfelt and regular habit as much as you are able.
The main reasons for writing here, instead of a Facebook post, are:
- I plan to eventually build and host my own website, including a writing/blog section. That project is a little ways out from any sort of realistic application, and so I thought that, rather than waiting for that unknown future date and in the meantime having no content, it would be better to migrate away from the Zucc, to a cleaner and more accessible platform such as Medium.
- Segueing from the previous point, as of approximately the middle of the past week, Facebook altered my News Feed algorithm such that many of the Pages/accounts which I follow for news and information, as well as artistic and community posts, were no longer shown with the same frequency or regularity. Although I’m very much supportive of efforts to dispel disinformation and promote relevant local/proximate connections for people and their networks, I was very much using Facebook as my primary source for local, national, and world news, and this change makes that use-case almost impossible. I’ll still use it and Messenger to connect with people, events, and causes, but I’ll definitely be checking the Facebook feed a lot less going forward. I’m currently using Feedly and Pocket to manage my information intake for the time being, and will try to use Medium and eventually my own website for relating my thoughts and what I consider important Content™.
- Regarding that last bit: important content. Many of you who are taking the time to read this are likely well aware that I’m an urgently, possibly unhealthily-active person. The last couple years have been particularly hard for me for many, many reasons. Many of you know that I’ve struggled with depression and alcoholism, many of you know I’ve struggled with anxiety and trauma related to the August 2017 events in Charlottesville (and related issues/events), and those closer to me know that my career, academic, and romantic paths have been anything but straightforward. I’ve recognized for a while that Facebook is one of the least effective ways to reach out to people meaningfully, especially in support of a proactive message, and so the News Feed algorithm change coming just ahead of the elections is almost certainly a blessing. In the closing months of this year and the coming year, I intend to use this platform and my future website to clarify and refine the tumultuous experiences I’ve had, and hopefully build a stronger, more coherent message that is relatable and inspiring to you. Alongside that, I‘ll be doing my best to curate my personal relationships more directly, through whatever route fits best. If you’d like to text, please blow up my phone. If post works better, I have my pen a-ready. Regardless of your preference, please reach out to me, and I’ll keep trying to do the same. Bottom-line, half-baked Facebook posts and shared links with commentary and sporadic messages were not and never were going to do the job, so I’m trying to make the change, and I’d be thrilled if you joined me.
- As a closing point, I’ll come back to my being almost-certainly unhealthily socially-/civically-motivated. Longtime friends I suspect would peg me as a bit of a doom-and-gloom pessimist. At the same time, I hope that you reading this know that part of what sustains my activity is a deeply-held conviction that not only is a better world possible, but that it is within our collective heart to yearn for it, and within our collective power to make it real. This evening, I attended a showing of a documentary covering the August 2017 riots and surrounding events in Charlottesville as part of the Virginia Film Festival. I have very mixed feelings about the production itself, but the remarks beforehand were given by the highly-respected University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato, and the closing remarks were (in my opinion) rightfully dominated almost entirely by Martin Luther King III. About three seats over from me was the mother of the protester killed here last year, Susan Bro. I did not know that last fact until after the film was over. I bring up these points because a lot of what I’ve struggled with before and since my own traumatic experiences confronting white supremacist and fascist violence has been related to my already-fragile sense of community, and ongoing despair and dispirit over current events. Seeing on-screen and in-person how this woman handled her grief and her struggle, and seeing this man, whose father was murdered by the same forces which wounded my own body and my spirit, speak so eloquently and passionately did very much give me hope that a better world remains possible.
And so I’d like to wrap up for now with two direct requests, the first of which is: please vote. Please vote, because knowing that you’ve voted — yes, you, specifically — will continue to lift my spirit. Knowing that you, and your friends, and your relatives, and your neighbors and community members have voted will give me hope for a better world that I’ll freely admit I selfishly need. But I have more than a feeling that you need some of that hope, too, and even if somehow you don’t, I suspect that some other people you know do need it.
My final request is that you do one other thing besides vote. Voting happens, at best, a couple times a year. The rest of the year, as we all know by now, can be quickly filled with challenges, struggle, and strife from almost any quarter. It’s of course up to you what you choose to do, but I humbly request that you please pick up something you’ve done in the past and let lapse, or have never done but feel inspired or angry or desperate or courageous enough to do now. Phone bank. Reach out to a long-lost relative or schoolteacher or neighbor. Canvass. Hand the vet on the street corner a bill or five. Teach guitar lessons to local kids. Sort your recycling. Something, anything. Please, please, do something that increases your awareness of and connection with the world and the people in it, and your and others’ hope and quality of life. Voting is the first step, but the only way that we will enter what MLKIII referred to tonight in his remarks as “an exciting new era of citizen action” populated by those “who do justice and love mercy” is through action. Small or large, frequent or periodic, it is action that will inspire us, and it’s action that will bring about a better world. So thank you, sincerely, in advance, for voting and taking action with me.