In the 4 days since the election, more than 200 hate incidents have occurred. Those Trump voters who shared articles and posted statuses saying not everyone who voted for Trump is racist, where are they now? Are they so preoccupied with defending themselves that they don’t have time to care about the fact that because of their vote people all over the country are now being assaulted and killed because of their race? Maybe voting for Trump doesn’t mean you are necessarily racist (see: all generalizations are false), but at best it still means you are overlooking Trump’s racist policies.
I went looking on some more conservative social sites and talked to my conservative friends. It turns out that, in fact, there’s a whole different discussion happening there. In the 4 days since the election, anti-Trump violent protests have broken out all over the country and so-called peaceful liberals have been attacking Trump voters just going about their days. This comes as no surprise, since liberals have been bullying Trump supporters for most of the election cycle, even going as far as attacking them at the voting booths on Election Day. And not one liberal, including the President of the country, is condemning these actions. They’re too busy making up reports of minorities being assaulted.
As the old phrase goes, it turns out there’s assholes on both sides. There are liberals who think it’s funny to joke about killing conservatives. There are conservatives who think its funny to joke about inner city crime and Trump’s policy on the Mexican border. It also turns out that arguing about which side has more assholes is decidedly an asshole-ish thing to do. Because as has been pointed out several times since the election, we live in a bubble. Liberals live in a bubble where they see only their liberal friends and conservative assholes. Conservatives live in a bubble where they see only their conservative friends and liberal assholes. And Facebook’s personalized filter bubble feed is one of the main reasons for this. Now, especially with the rise of internet social media, it’s easier than ever to filter out the people who disagree with you.
Except that’s not quite true.
The development of the internet and its social media have actually made it easier than it has ever been to connect to people from different backgrounds. Political ideology is roughly predicted by where you live, which means that 5 elections ago if you lived in rural America there was no chance in darn-tootin’ that you were going to have the chance to see the other side’s “news feed”, and if you lived in urban America there was no chance in yoga that you would hear anything from your friends other than Clinton’s hard fought battle against Republicans to raise the minimum wage.
It turns out there’s loving people on both sides too. Sometimes liberals do condemn violence against Trump supporters. Sometimes conservatives condemn all prejudice against Arabs. And if to you these kinds of stories seem too few and far between, blame only yourself.
Because we really do live in a bubble. And I mean that. The opinion filter we put around ourselves is literally as easy to escape as a bubble. All you need to do is reach out and touch it and it pops. All you need to do is put in a tiny amount of effort to look for the loving people on both sides. It’s easier than it has ever been. You can do it right now by Googling, Redditing, Facebooking, or even just asking your one conservative friend nicely if she thinks violence is funny.
There is love amongst the outgroup. I know this because conservatives see me as part of the outgroup and yet I care about them. I know this because I know my conservative friends care about people. And its important to remember that even if your Facebook feed doesn’t bring the most heartwarming news and beam it directly into your eyeballs, there are people on the other side who are actually very loving.
I think this has to do with what people (conservatives and liberals alike) misunderstand about safe spaces too. Most of the discussion I see (see: beamed directly into my eyeballs) involves liberals being babies or conservatives being privileged. The truth is finding an actual, productive safe space is not about surrounding yourself with people who agree with you, it’s about surrounding yourself with people who care about you. Because if you don’t put in the work to find the truth, that there is love amongst the outgroup, then you shouldn’t expect to ever understand that truth.