I try not to go into politics all that much online, at least not anymore. I used to debate and growl and soapbox like the rest of them out there, but in the words of John Lennon, I’m “no longer riding on the merry go round / I just had to let it go.” I found that I was taking a lot of things a little too personally and emotionally, and realized that not only was that unhealthy for me, it was also pretty irritating to everyone else. I had to back away and focus on more important things in my life, like family and writing.
I still think about it some, just not as much as I used to. This past week has been kind of a tough one, considering all the white noise I’ve been hearing. [I use the term ‘white noise’ here to describe the heavy volume of Tweets and FB posts on certain political subjects, most of which is usually in the form of shouting matches, name-calling and trolling. Most of it is well-meant but often drowned out by the thousands of others saying the same exact thing and the thousands of others saying the exact opposite. Thus, white noise.]
It’s not that I’m ignoring the injustice and the idiocy out there. I’m still well aware of it. I’m just not offering my opinion on a public platform nearly as much as I used to.
Sure, I may still be a rebel at heart in some respects. If I want my voice to be heard, believe me, I can make it heard. But I realized some years ago that the voice I was using was getting lost in the din of that white noise. Or as I’d said on my LJ, I no longer wanted to contribute to a lot of the hot air that was already out there. I chose to internalize my thoughts about things…think about them, figure them out. Think about why they were bothering me, what I can do about it (if anything), and go from there.
One avenue that hasn’t escaped me when it comes to this sort of thing is music. I’m fascinated by protest songs, especially if they’re in an unexpected format. That is, protest songs that aren’t outright protest songs like the ones we expect from Pete Seeger, or early Dylan, or Billy Bragg. Or even obvious outcries, such as the punk aesthetic of the Sex Pistols or Dead Kennedys. Some of them are oblique, only describing a hectic mise en scene of a stressful time. Others are more poetic, describing the mood or the mindset of those involved.
Still others decide to offer no filter; calling it like it is, for good or ill. Pouring out black bile and anger and never holding back once.
In the past week or so, I’ve been trying to focus on many things in my life, both internal and external. Trying to keep focus on my writing deadlines and near-future writing plans. Trying to avoid overindulgence of social media and social justice. Trying to avoid reading the comments. Trying to keep an even mind and an even heart. It’s tough, especially when it sometimes feels like it’s expected of me to react to whatever injustice is going on. It’s tough, but I have found ways to calm myself.
Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, as Congreve says.
This was great, Jon. I don’t typically get into it with people on social media, partly because I don’t need to – my friends and family and people I follow are all of a similar mindset, I live in an exceptionally blue state – but this week has tested the limits of what I’m willing to let slide. My posts this week have definitely borne that out though I hope the musical component has softened it a little.