Where were you on Election Day?
I was surrounded by a hundred of my classmates, all watching as multiple news sources in our campus center all said the same thing: Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States.
We were shocked, stunned, unable to say anything beyond words of disbelief. I saw multiple girls crying in their friend’s chest and out in the corridor, a giant whiteboard with the United States printed on it just had “We are all doomed” etched in bold font across the midwest. Together, we all walked back to our homes with tears in our eyes unsure of what we were to face in years to come.
In the morning after, social media was abuzz with posts that felt like a national disaster had just ripped through all of our major cities. Grief counseling, emotional rants, hashtags expressing pain and agony came from every direction on all platforms. A large portion of the country was in pain. Every single one of my friends posted an Instagram photo or tweet that alerted the masses that they were not willing to give up and be silent anymore. Many of us signed petitions to protect minorities and immediately joined Marches for Women. They were going to fight against unjust laws and actions and express how much they believed Trump was #NotMyPresident. Those who could not express their words coherently shared videos such as this monologue by Stephen Colbert of “The Late Show” following his all night coverage of the election results. It seemed that for this one day, we were a community of grievers. But, this wasn’t the first time social media reacted emotionally to the election.
Social Media was a major player in this year’s election, there is no denying that. What our friends and favorite celebrities had to say impacted us. “The study didn’t measure non-famous Facebook friends, like your uncle or college buddy, but the implications are clear. People are increasingly getting news from their social media feeds, and the beliefs of their “friends” determine what they see regularly just like an editor who makes decisions about what goes into a newspaper.” Our friends are who we trust. Their facebook shares or tweets concerning debates or recent findings in investigations influenced our thoughts and feelings regarding the political opponents of 2016. We fought with those we disagreed with and gave praise and support to those we did not. For many, political posts were a way to keep people aware of the injustice being seen around the world. As this blogger puts it, many people believe certain issues are just too important to keep to themselves.
The onslaught of political posts expanded “bigly” after the election. Those who had supported D.T came out of their hiding places and exclaimed their joy and excitement for the first time. They felt safe knowing that the country had voted for their choice for a candidate. An old friend of mine posted a picture of her tearing up with the only caption being “MAGA,” the famous catchphrase of Donald Trump’s political campaign. I didn’t want anything to do with these posts, and with the people who created them. I was not emotionally prepared to see this, to see people who aligned themselves with this man. And I realized that for most of those who voted for Trump, our accusatory and vindictive posts about Trump and his supporters must have been just as hard to swallow. No one likes to feel like the loser or the enemy.
We like to share our opinions. Our emotions are driven deeply within our social justice, political ideology, and sense of community. When we win our first sense is to tell our loved ones the good news. When we lose, we handle our grief the same way. Grief and pain are feelings we want to rid ourselves of and spreading it to those we know will listen is for many the first step in healing.