Nothing like a light, breezy topic to launch the Notes category of this blog. Nevertheless, my exit from the social-justice world has loomed quite large in my mind, I’ve no one with whom to talk about it, and since I’m not leasing this part of the internet just to let it sit here and collect dust….
Except for those closely tied to the Trump campaign from its inception, 2016 was a nightmare for everyone. I watched in horror the entire year as the DNC harvested so many activists and organizers who were still independent. Some became full-throated supporters of people and policies they’d spent their entire time in activism trying to stop. Others simply fell silent to Democratic hypocrisies, looking the other way and directing any attention in that direction elsewhere. DNC talking points replaced revolutionary ideas all in service to electing a doomed candidate who not even years of backroom scheming could help.
And then Trump won and didn’t so much upset the apple cart as set a thermite charge underneath it. His opposition? Well, the DNC proper keeps doubling down on their Provoke Russia strategem and while abandoning all ties with logic and reason. Their legion of co-opted activists, organizers and nonprofits who had all but claimed their rewards for Democratic fealty were now busking in the streets for ideas and grants, or diverting them from causes such as Standing Rock. It looked like somebody knocked over an anthill; people scrambling in every direction trying to catch the first whiff of a plan.
Somewhen in the middle of all this, my brain decided it’d had enough and began gifting me anxiety attacks to let me know it meant business. A few triggers in my personal life showed up to lend a hand, but those would’ve been trifles if I hadn’t already been managing the toxicity of social justice in 2016 coupled with the rapid gentrification of online social-justice communities and spaces via the DNC, tech and NPIC; online communities and spaces that were so necessary because their physical-world counterparts had already been gentrified into so much dust in the wind. So I tapped out. In that moment, I diagnosed it as simply absorbing too much of 2016’s toxicity and negativity without the requisite community to balance it out. I tried to make bargains and adjustments (this blog, for example) that would allow me to carry on as before, but like a sprained ankle protesting any movement, my brain just sent more anxiety as further proof it wasn’t budging.
I was in a bit of an empty space the few days after I’d decided to finally put down my social-justice toys, so to speak, and plan whither next. I’ve always been a sucker for the morality plays of Star Wars and was catching up on Rebels when I saw what felt like a tl;dr for everything I’d been wrestling with the past year:
I’m well-and-truly aware that all the levels of what happened in 2016 cannot be boiled down to an animated Star Wars clip, yet where is Yoda’s lie? The election obviously dominated the 2016 news cycle, and that cycle was driven by fear, anger, hate and little else. And it was driving everyone, myself included. I spent most of the year hating a political system that only offered dead-end candidates and solutions while violently excluding the rest; angry at the people now supporting the left side of that system instead of challenging it from farther left; fearful of a post-election world where activists were so inextricably intertwined with the DNC and NPIC that any true change would be smothered in its crib. Consumed, just like the people I was so busy calling out.
So, whither now? As I said at the time on my now possibly vacant Twitter account, I’ve not abandoned any of my principles or beliefs, but I have to find an entirely different outlet for them. I’ve not exactly gone into exile like Yoda did after his failure, but I’ve a feeling I’ll be keeping my distance from the social-justice world. I could write tens of thousands of words on how social justice is currently more about helping people live with injustice than freeing them from it, but I’m honestly quite Ahsoka Tano about it all and just ready to move on to what’s next for me. I’m currently exploring options, fingers crossed.