The Trumpocalypse: Our Bubble Has Burst, But There May Be Hope
I believe the reasons for the upside down situation we have now entered – the Black Mirror that has become our reality – has very little to do with politics and everything to do with who we are as the ‘swipe-right’ and ‘move on’ generation. The bubble we’ve been living in has burst, and perhaps this was a much-needed jolt that would hopefully stop us from spending our lives staring at our phones.
The pressing question of the moment is not how did a misogynist, racist, fascist homophobe become President-Elect of the USA but how did we not see it coming?
We, who had shared all those 9Gag memes, Buzzfeed posts and Facebook gifs, who had liked the hell out of every anti-Trump link, who had waited for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver to see Donald being Drumpf again, who had retweeted every stand-up comedian who represented well-reasoned sanity – how could ‘we’ be so wrong?
We may never have stepped foot in America (or be allowed into the country now!), but we form the progressive, educated, internet-savvy millennials who’ve prided ourselves in our balanced opinions that have generally been the force of nature showing the world the light. Right? So how did ‘we’ allow this to happen?
Internet is Only a Loud Small World
Here’s how: We, our generation at large, are less the citizens of any country with well-defined borders, but more those of the bubble that is the internet, that we log on to every morning on our devices and spend the entire day rallying behind, with the same nationalist pride that soars in the hearts of right-wingers for all the wrong reasons (according to us, of course).
We go to sleep at night at peace with ourselves after partaking in every trending topic and popular hashtag of the day by jumping to the most-reasonable conclusion that the smartest people on our timelines have come to. Our knee-jerk likes, shares and comments do not wait for any in-depth reportage. They are swift, immediate and final, and come from a sense of inherent duty that if we don’t do our bit right now, we would have let the world down.
Except that the internet is not the world. Facebook doesn’t in any way represent the aspirations of the common man on the street who is suffering from issues we don’t know and can’t even fathom; Instagram is so fantastical that it does not even truly represent our own worlds with the inevitable lows that it sees outside of the highs we choose to showcase, and Twitter is so far gone that it has led itself to believe that it really does have the power to change the world through its white eggs and blue ticks.
Yes, of course, the internet can sway a certain section of public opinion, especially when it comes to entertainment (eg Trump), but that’s about all the influence it exerts. Because the internet comprises but a tiny, only sometimes-significant part of the world’s population that is unfortunately so loud, vocal and self-agreeable that it does not even bother to factor, in any of its conclusive pronouncements, an entire middle-class that has more critical worries in its life than a status message not getting enough likes.
Clash of Opinions Dealt with Impatience
Our social media accounts are carefully curated by us to represent the voices we want to hear, the opinions we find compliant and the thoughts and ideas that concur with the ones we have deemed appropriate.
And whenever there is dispute, disagreement or dissent, it strikes as such a false note in our utopian realms that our immediate response is to term that reactionary, dumb, illiterate or worse, trolling. We unfriend, block and report abuse, we passionately diss anything that challenges our statuses and status quos but we do not understand, we do not empathise and we do not engage (and if we ever do, it’s only to slur back).
We have been living and thriving in this self-created bubble for so long that only a Trumpocalypse could have burst it. So now what? Well, it’s not going to take one person and it’s not going to take one day. But if we view this moment in time as a crucial turning point of our history and come together to being less elitist, self-absorbed and intolerant as a people; if we can stay put and take action than swiping right and moving on to the next armchair battle, there is hope yet.
We need to stop looking down upon anyone with an offensive opinion but engage with them, stop being snarky towards anyone less-informed but inform them, stop calling out anyone with vulgar comments but sensitize them, stop being contemptuous of those unlike us but comprehend them.
Listen Instead of Scream
Let’s be gentle to that old relative or grandparent who believes homosexuality is a disease and explain to them why they are wrong. Let’s have a one-on-one with that colleague that passes off sexist comments as banter. Let’s have a dialogue with the deeply conditional house help who inadvertently champions patriarchy and let’s tell a racist friend why the world cannot – and should not – be segregated into religions or colours. Let’s have the patience and resolve to talk it out with everyone who is only just a few well-meaning conversations away from broadening their perspectives.
And let’s listen. Let’s listen without judgement to the woes of the people who fear their jobs being taken away by immigrants. Let’s understand, without discrimination, those people who believe in prejudice. Let’s empathise with everyone who is unlike us, and let’s engage.
Let’s engage with everyone who does not hold our outlook because the fact is: There is no such thing as right or wrong views, but there is context and there is perspective. And if we understand the other’s and explain to them ours, maybe – just maybe – there is a meeting ground in the middle for both.
If we, the generation that has had, unlike its predecessors, the opportunity, luck and benefit of being aware of the world beyond our communities, cities and borders thanks to the very same phenomenon that is the internet, come together to listen, engage and be kind, we can work together to make the best of the trumping we’ve received.
If we come together, we can save the world yet…YES. WE. CAN!
(Nikhil Taneja is a writer-producer who heads development at Y-Films. He blogs on www.tanejmainhoon.com, tweets @tanejamainhoon and believes in Aaron Sorkin. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author's own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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