This is not a post with a solution. This is a post that will (hopefully) lead to a solution – or many.
For the past few days, my Facebook has been flooded with memes and posts about the current situation in the U.S. concerning the zero tolerance immigration policy and the separation of children from parents who have entered the country illegally. It’s literally made me sick, just like the situation concerning Syrian refugees, just like the situation concerning the maltreatment of the LGBTQ community, just like the squabbles over gun ownership after over a dozen school shootings this year, just like so many other situations that, over the years, have had everyone on social media outraged.
This isn’t the first time I’ve contemplated just packing up my bags and leaving social media behind, but this is the first time I’ve been so close. I’ve blocked, snoozed, and unfriended people for their opposing opinions before and this time is no different, except that it is.
What difference am I making by throwing up my hands and walking away from people I don’t agree with? The constant bombardment of opinions contrary to my own is nauseating. It infuriates me. It ruins my days, but you know what? Good. Because I just realized that those people are just as upset as I am.
Let me back up for just a second and admit who “those people” are to me. They’re the ones most call “conservatives” and “Republicans.” That’s right, if I’m being honest, I’m more liberal than I want to be labeled, but it is what it is. So, my stance on the separating of immigrant children from their parents is: it’s wrong. And I’ve been viewing those who support it as morally corrupt and heartless. Understandably, this is how a typical “liberal” should react, right? So, maybe this change of perspective evicts me from that group. I don’t really care, because it’s not about me, is it? If it’s about being right and wrong, it’s about ego and that means I’m more concerned with the problem than the solution. So let’s skip back to the present (and the future).
While I’m still outraged by this immigration policy, I’ve realized: so is the other side. “Truth” about whose fault it is and whose morals and opinions are more fact- or fake-news-based is irrelevant now, because the common vein is this: everyone recognizes and acknowledges the flaws in immigration policy in the United States. The barrage of posts is evidence of this from both sides. One side is dissatisfied with the way things have been handled up until this point and the other is dissatisfied with the way things are being handled currently. And this is about as far as either side gets if we can boil things down on social media.
Maybe most of us will say that we’ve gone a little further and we already know that the root cause is that current immigration laws aren’t working. Ok…so what? Seriously, what now? Well, let’s look first at where all of this bickering has got us.
Today, President Trump has agreed to sign an executive order to stop the separation of immigrant children from their parents. Now, is this because multiple states pulled National Guard troops and resources from the border or flat out refused to send them in the first place, or is it because of all the public outcry on social media? The answer is yes. To both. But, mostly to the latter. Because of the outrage displayed on social media, our representatives have heard us. It has influenced our representatives at the state level to put pressure on the president in a way that he responds to, by denying him what he wants. If it seems dirty, it kind of is, but that’s not the point. The point is: they’re listening.
Think about this for a minute. A few weeks ago, Fox announced it was cancelling the show Brooklyn 99. People were so upset by this that they took to Twitter and Facebook, and within a day, Fox changed its mind. It also announced it was cancelling Lucifer. Again, social media raged. Netflix promptly scooped it up. They were listening. If you think the only thing social media is good for is for people to bitch about things that piss them off to no avail, think again. Social media has become not only a public platform, but a tool used by networks, corporations, and yes, our politicians, to gauge public satisfaction with how issues are handled and whether it’s moral or not, it’s how they make decisions (hey, they don’t want to lose those jobs of theirs, do they?).
So, are you pissed off about something happening in the world right now? Awesome. Make noise. Use every social platform available, because a few decades ago, we could only write letters and make phone calls to our representatives. Now, we have faster weapons in our arsenal. (Think about how quickly a decision was made about Roseanne Barr’s racist Tweet. Whether you liked it or not, the action and consequence were almost instantaneous because of social media.)
Now, on to the second part: Where do we go from here? Well, I’m glad you asked.
You become Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela and all the others that came before you. We’ve had Plan A in place, and it’s ineffective. That led to the change that’s happening now, i.e. Plan B: the zero tolerance policies. Plan B also isn’t working. That’s where people are getting stuck. Instead, let’s rename Plan B. Let’s call it Plan Z. This now opens up all the possibilities of Plans B – Y. And what are they?
Well…I don’t know…because I am not familiar enough with the past and current laws dealing with immigration. But you know who is? Someone out there. Is it you? If not, could it be you? That’s all the world is waiting on: the person with the solution. And believe me, it IS out there, just like every other solution in the world that has ever come about. There was a problem, and it was a problem up until the solution was found. Then, it simply wasn’t a problem anymore. This is no different.
And let me be clear. It frustrates me to no end that I don’t have the solution or the pre-requisite skillset to search for a solution. It would take me years – literally years – to do the research required to even begin to look at this from a problem-solving angle. Could I do it? It’s plausible. People do it all the time, become inspired by others’ work or just so fed up with the way things are that they go out and do just this. But, there are a lot of reasons that this isn’t possible for me. And there are a lot of reasons why it isn’t possible for a lot of people. But, don’t despair! I’m not. And do you know why?
Because of social media. I can still make noise. Maybe someday an issue will come up that I CAN tackle. Until that time, I can take to social media and rage against injustice. I can debate with those “other people,” because even though it isn’t a solution, it makes a difference. Yes, being angry is exhausting. It’s stressful. But, being passive is morally irresponsible. I can’t just throw in the towel. And neither should you. Use social media to make a difference and recognize that if someone doesn’t see the problem the same way you do, it’s probably because they also see the worm at the heart of the apple you both know is there. Say it loud. Say it louder for the people in the back.
***Now that the executive order has been signed by President Trump to stop the separation of families in immigration processing, you can help those children who have already been separated to reunite with their parents. Charlotte and Dave Willner started a Facebook fundraiser that, at the time of this post, has raised over $14 million in donations. The money goes to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services which goes “toward legal representation for immigrant children and parents in Texas, as well as toward paying parents’ bond so they can be released from detention centers and reunited with their children.” You can find the whole story here with a link to their donation page, or you can go directly to the donation page here.
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