A little bird says: ?‘Don’t put me in a box’

Jul 27, 2016 at 10:25 am
A little bird says: ?‘Don’t put me in a box’

In the midterm elections, I voted for Bernie Sanders. When the Apocalypse comes, I don’t want to feel responsible, and, man — I like what that gruff old guy has to say. Also, when the little bird landed on his podium on the campaign trail and people dubbed it #BirdieSanders, well — I thought it foolish to look a gift-bird in the mouth.

I know a harbinger when I see one.

My vote may surprise my friends and those who know me only through social media, mostly because I have never voiced dislike, or disdain, for Hillary Clinton, and I was not a self-described member of #FeeltheBern bandwagon. There are those, too, who, sadly, believe that because I have a vagina, I will vote only for a candidate with a vagina, like there is some pact feminists make to ensure the future matriarchy. Instead of pinkie swears, or pricking a finger to be blood sisters, we communicate through intra-vaginal wireless orbs and promise to vote for only the team.

I vote for men sometimes! Really, I do. When I believe they are more qualified for the position or office, I vote for them. I was chided for this in an election once when I endorsed a male and not a female. A woman told me I was a sellout and hypocrite, and I was not a champion for women at all. Sigh.

Opinions, so the saying goes, are like assholes. Everybody has one. Assumptions, like opinions, but different, make an ass out of you and me, thus we are dissuaded from undertaking them. Make them we do, though, with abandon, to our collective detriment these days, as we continue to alienate each other on social media with facts. One of my favorite T-shirts from the brand, Theory, is emblazoned with the words: “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” It is an incredibly appealing message to the lawyer I am, and it is also entirely illustrative of how a set of facts are spun around and shaken and stirred on social media so as to be unrecognizable.

I am going to tell you something shocking. Facebook isn’t real. Elections are not won or lost by posts on it, or by memes, or by shaming or by shares. The mass regurgitation of information that reaches you about local and national politics was filtered through the bias and interpretation of the author, the composer, the spin doctor and, ultimately, you the viewer, so that what you read as truth, is some version of it. And it was dished up in an algorithm to soothe you like pablum, or fire you up like moonshine hitting your craw on a hot summer night.

Do yourself and me a favor. Don’t take social media as gospel. Don’t put me in a box, and I will try not to put you in one, based on social media posts exclusively or expressed preferences. As the philosopher Kierkegaard said, “To label me is to negate me.”

We have a little more than three months to not destroy each other over differing opinions and assumptions, some facts and a whole lot of fear mongering. Apparently, one of the greatest predictors of longevity is the behavior of one’s “tribe,” according to a recent Ted Talk that Dan Buettner, an explorer, gave on the subject of longevity. Buettner said trendy plant-based diets, polyphenols in red wine and exercise may be great for us, but how people connect more likely determines resilience, or at least it seems for the centenarians and others he studied in Okinawa and elsewhere.

In the highlands of Sardinia, Buettner found, those who lived the longest, tended gardens, walked stairs regularly, walked to do errands and “set up their lives so they were constantly nudged into physical activity.” All well and good, Buettner said, but, “They also belong to the right tribe,” which they were born into or attracted to themselves. And that determined more about their resilience than did any activity.

From today forward, let’s pledge to honor our beliefs and defend them, if we must, while giving others enough room to do the same. We can hold hands when we cross the street, like Robert Fulghum entreated us to do, and we can lock arms at a protest and fight the power a la Angela Davis. The wondrous thing about humans is that we’re multidimensional and resilient, and we’re gonna survive this election. A little bird told me so.