Because I’m an American, I know there’s all sorts of international folks who would gladly kidnap and behead me. On TV. I know there are white supremacists in the United States who would happily hunt me down in the woods. But that’s so minuscule—the number of people who are like that. The chances are so small. I think the bigger problem is that, on both sides, we fight people whose politics are different than ours with the worst of that. Like their efforts to equate Obama with Ayers, or to equate McCain with Timothy McVeigh. Or, you know, to call Bush “Hitler.”The need to make someone who disagrees with you into something extreme—to turn him into a monster.
Sherman Alexie (emphasis mine)
That last bit of Alexie’s quote has bounced around in my brain pan since I first read it. A lot.
Won’t speak to, can’t speak to, what’s behind the behavior of anyone else, but me personally, I’ve spent a lot of time in the monster-making workshop. I’d go so far as saying that making monsters of the opposition, along with jeering, ridiculing, trash-talking and exaggeration, constituted the bulk of my online participation here in Netrootsville, Left Blogtopistan. Political crack is a helluva drug.
And now? Now I slouch before you a changed woman. Not that I’m not still a card-carrying member of the hoi polloi and certainly not that I’ve come to some enlightened moral high ground. That’s not it at all.
It just stopped working for me, the monster-making. It stopped being motivating. The vegetable throwing stopped being fun. It stopped making me feel part of a community. I got bored with it. I got bored with the part of me that it came from. I have no idea about anyone else, but for me, that stuff comes from the lazy part.
I didn’t see this coming. It’s kind of an unanticipated side effect of a much larger set of changes I’ve made during the last year, and I guess it’s the lazy factor that connects it all together. Things started out really simple. I didn’t want laziness to be my default setting anymore. I just wanted to get healthy, eat right, lose weight. So I started doing it.
Then I decided to clean up my act around money stuff. Then I felt I really needed to rededicate myself to my job and career goals. Next thing I know, I’m going to the gym, working with a trainer three times a week, and cutting grains out of my diet. All along, I sort of thought it would all end the way countless other self-help binges have in the past but it didn’t. Or at least it hasn’t yet, which is good, since lately I’ve started considering grad school.
I still spend way more time on the internet than most “normal” people but it’s a whole lot less than I used to. I still watch too much TV but again, much less than before, and I’ve completely lost all patience with political coverage. If you had told me a year ago I’d be this person, I’d have laughed at you. What? Me not spend the evening getting cozy with MSNBC? But I just cannot sit still watching that stuff anymore.
You know what my favorite kind of television is now? Women knocking the holy crap out of stuff, stuff that deserves to have the crap knocked out of it. Hot kick-ass ladies beating shit up, if there was a channel that showed that 24/7, I’d probably go back to being a couch potato.
And if there were kick-ass Dems beating shit up, I’d start paying attention again. Not monster-making, not crack. Just sack up, get the job done, and move on. And for the record, I don’t entirely agree with Alexie about the monster thing. Sure we waste a lot of our energy creating monsters out of simple differences. But sometimes the monsters are real. The problem is we (us, the people we vote for, the process, the pundits, that “we”) still waste a lot of energy on them, and we still don’t ever seem get rid of them. Kill it with fire, hit it with a rock, shoot it in the eyestalk with an alpha-meson burst, I don’t care.
Just take it down and move on.
NOTE to the NSA, FBI, or whoever is listening in: above references to killing and maiming in politics are strictly rhetorical and do not refer to actual violence.