There's a concept called "Emotional Labour"-- specifically "the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job or a relationship."
Emotional Labour also applies to friendships, and, for the purposes of this discussion, I'd also like to apply it to my own feelings.
I find that the recent goings-on in the world-- the entire ongoing farrago that is the Trump Presidency, and Brexit and now these increasing terror attacks in the UK-- they're all adding a massive cognitive burden to me that I'm not quite sure how to process.
Sarcasm and intellectual understanding only go so far. I have studied history and Political Science and all I see around me right now are people making ALL The classic mistakes of history.
My background is what one might consider privileged. I have wanted for nothing, and had the chance to develop my mind and receive an excellent education. Demographically, I have the least to fear from the madness slowly encroaching on all sides.
But, unlike so many of my peers, I'm not so insulated from the realities of the world that I fail to see the horror of what's happening. I'm not so cut off as to imagine that the socio-political games being played in Parliament and the Unites States Congress / Executive Branch are not going to cause incredible lasting and destructive harm not only to my home / adopted home, but to the world.
From experience, I an good with absorbing trauma-- both mine, and that of others. I can handle a lot of Emotional Labour. I tend to let things roll off my back and I get by by forgetting and forgiving a lot-- even when, perhaps, I should not.
But every sponge has its limits. And with each new act of wrongdoing in the world, I find myself meeting mine.
For good or ill, I am a very empathetic person, and even though I have managed to weather the storm of bigotry sweeping the planet lately by keeping my head low, comforting those close to me, and cynically trying to stay detached, I feel like I'm doing something wrong.
A great man once said "There are some corners of the universe which have bred the most terrible things. Things which act against everything we believe in. They must be fought."
And I don't feel like I'm fighting them. I know that every act of defiance, every rejection of the racist screed that is starting to bubble out of the cracks of our society, is a shot against the darkness, but it all feels so futile.
On Twitter (LOL nothing ever starts well with those words, eh?) I have seen the basest form of ignorance-- Scared old White Men and conservatives, spewing pure garbage about racial isolation and "what should be done" to "fix" the situation of the world, all blindly ignorant of the fact that on the other side of the coin, it's the self-same xenophoblic "My way is superior to yours" mindset that is causing this whole problem.
I tried to correct a few. Then I blocked one or two. Then I stopped trying altogether and just watch with quiet annoyance. It takes all that I have not to just cut myself out of part of the world totally.
I am a lapsed academic. I was raised NOT to ignore other points of view, to try and start a debate, to come to an understanding.
But lately it feels like I "understand" enough, and I'm tired of hearing bullshit, and I just want to block it all out.
I know that living in bubbles and echo chambers is what causes all this nonsense to begin with. Even "correct" bubbles and echo chambers.
For example, in America, before the last election, everyone in the "bubble" thought everything was going along swimmingly. We had had a black president, and were poised (we thought) to get the first woman president ever. More and more states were passing LGBT protections and legitimising their marriages. Net Neutrality was passed. Health Care was vastly improved. It was a rising tide of Progress. The Old ugly demons of the past were finally, FINALLY getting buried.
And then, Trump.
The Realisation that ugliness was not only still in existence, but almost HALF the country was willing to buy in. And even now, 39% think he's doing a good job. Thirty-Nine percent. More than one in three.
And all that progress, now shattered, viciously and gleefully attacked with relish by the orange cartoon stereotype of an Ugly American.
And I just.. I'm torn.
I want to shove them away from me, like one would a toxic "friend" who does nothing but abuse. Everything they say does violence to my sensibilities and fills me with despair. But I know I have to be better. I have to stand it, I have to face it. After all, the best trick the Devil ever had, as they say, was him convincing others he did not exist.
If I seal up in my happy bubble, I'll feel better... but that's all. It's an ostrich putting its head in the sand. But if I try to engage and enlighten, these people are like brick walls and I just get so tired dealing with them.
Between the chores of my everyday life, the needs of my friends, and the world seemingly turning to shit, I am running out of energy to devote. My Emotional Labour is being taxed to the limit.
If I turn away I feel like I'm shirking a duty to try and be the change in the world I want to see. I feel selfish. But how much more can I take?
I wish I had the money to buy all these rich racists a planet so they could all go there and be gleefully racially / religiously pure with one another and deny each other basic human kindness while the rest of us got on with the business of being human-- and that thought scares me. Because it means I'm othering them. I'm buying into, accepting and fomenting division. I'm becoming just like them. I'm actively wishing I could build a wall and put them on the other side of it, away from me and mine and those I care about.
But how do I avoid this and keep my sanity? How can I heal a divide that the other side relishes? At what point does it really become "Circle the wagons time, Civil War 2 is upon us?"
More questions than answers.
Sometimes I wish I thought about things less.
Why do I have to be above it all? Why can't I just run away and hide? Why must I face this day in and day out?
This is why I sigh and carry on and be there for the ones I love, no matter what happens:
If I can make one little corner of the world that's a safe space for kindness and friendship then that's what I'm bloody going to do. Because that's how I'll strike back at ignorance and fear-mongering. Not through fights, or disengagement, but one kindness at a time. That's the only antidote to the politics of fear, I think.
That's why They hate immigration, health care and equal rights. That's why they hate tolerance and acceptance, and nuance and understanding. Because when we are kind to each other, it is very hard--assuming a lack of psychopathy-- to return kindness with hate. And that means certain strictures and structures that thrive on division, on exploitation, can no longer operate. Europe used to be a sea of warring nation-states until they more or less got on the same page and worked towards understanding. This is what the hard right wants to undo with isolationism and "country first". To prevent fellow-feeling. To exacerbate selfishness and division, and promote a "fuck you, I'm getting mine" mentality. So that we go backwards from a rising tide that lifts all boats to an upper class preying on a lower class for sustenance.
Keep people weak, sick, afraid, uneducated, divided and scared and they will be unable to resist domination.
Thus we must fight it, not with guns, or insults, or blocklists, but deliberate attempts to resist by being kind and helping where we can, as we can, and not giving in to the fearmongers around us desperate to cling to an antediluvian lifestyle that has no proper place in the 21st bleeding century.
Having successfully invaded both America and Canada from her home base in Windsor, Paisley has become horribly corrupted by the world. She hates active voice and wishes to god Twitter had an edit button. Dedicated to "creating the greatest 'Ship of them all", she ponders horribly terrible, idiotic things for your amusement.