Influencers Preaching Politics – Good or Bad?

The above photo is a joke about me being political. Yes, I support Bacon, Egg, & Cheese sandwiches.

Now let me just say this before I say anything else: ultimately, I think it’s a good thing. It’s a contribution, and it’s starting more conversations around the issues that matter. But on the flip side, which no one ever mentions, I can also see why some people think it’s bad. And occasionally, I am one of those people. GASP. Hear me out.

I am an “influencer” too (albeit a self-loathing one), so perhaps my opinion is very different from others, but this is how I see it. I’d like to reiterate that I am only speaking for myself.

This year has been…unfavorable, to say the least. It’s not surprising that “influencers” feel compelled to speak out, especially when they are given the privilege of a platform to do so. We earned that privilege, but it’s still a privilege. Influencers are people too, and just because we have built our following on a topic outside of politics (food, fashion, etc) doesn’t mean we can’t care about it. It also doesn’t mean that we should shut up about it just because it’s not what you’re “used to” seeing from us.

Nothing is more infuriating to a creator than the phrase “stick to XYZ”. In my case, “stick to food” is a phrase I would often hear if I dare to speak about something unrelated to pizza. THE AUDACITY!! Imagine, I might just have thoughts and feelings outside of the kitchen!

That said, there are plenty of people out there who are WAY more educated on politics, and they don’t have a platform. It’s unfortunate but it’s the truth, and that is the part where I feel it could potentially be bad. Let me explain before you jump down my throat.

Some influencers may feel pressured to speak out on topics they know little or nothing about, due to the ever-growing popularity of posts from their peers who ARE using their platform diligently to speak out. The phrases we see everyday about staying quiet are basically messages from a bully. Allow me to paraphrase some of the ones I’ve seen: “If you stay silent, you’re obviously a neo-nazi who doesn’t care about our country/black people/immigrants/gay people/homeless people/stray cats”. Ah, thank you. I didn’t realize I was until now. And what exactly are you doing that’s so brave? Sharing a post from someone else? Good for you. You are truly paving the way for America now.

Is that really the way we want people to be speaking out? Because they feel bullied into it?

You can say it’s a responsibility that comes with a platform, but what happens when you don’t know all that much? WELL, YOU CAN READ AND LEARN!! Or…you can do what a lot of people do and regurgitate rhetoric, which leads to more and more vitriol.

Reminder: influencers aren’t news publications. They’re not required to fact-check anything they say before sharing it to their hundreds of thousands of followers. Consider that the next time you go to an influencer for your news. One thing can go viral and it could, in essence, be completely inaccurate. Not sure if you noticed, but that’s kind of a huge fucking problem with social media in the first place.

Allow me to be CRYSTAL CLEAR before the influencers come for me, wielding torches. I’m not saying this is the case for everything on social media, and I’m not saying that every influencer is a moron who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I think plenty of them are smart, well-educated people who are just trying to do some good in this world by sharing their thoughts, views, and hopefully some ways to take action.

I also think social media has the ability to do a lot of good for others, especially as it relates to education, but you have to do your homework before you do anything. You really have to, especially now. We live in a world of extremism, and it’s not only wrong if you don’t take a stand, but it’s also wrong if you don’t take a SIDE. That’s the thing I take issue with. What if I don’t want to take a side? What if I want to hear both sides before I form my opinion? And what if, god forbid, I agree with a little from column A and a little from column B?

Too bad! Not today, you fairweather idiot! You will be SHAMED AND CANCELED FOR EVEN SAYING THAT OUT LOUD!

This is actually what happens now. The whole point of social media was to create conversations. Connect with people who have the same interests, but maybe also have different interests. It was about learning and exploring new things. Naturally, we gravitate towards those who are like-minded, but with all the information that is ready at our fingertips, it bothers me that more people don’t spend just a few more minutes reading the opposing views or actually listening to each other. Everyone is so quick to condemn. And according to some studies, we’re actually not as divided as we think on certain issues. This article from NPR talks about that a bit and how “different perspectives make for a healthy democracy”. Something to keep in mind when we’re bullying each other on the internet.

In case it wasn’t clear yet, I am often quiet regarding politics on my platform. Why? Because I don’t enjoy talking about it, and it always feels pointless. It’s as simple as that. Sorry but that’s my truth. I grew up in a house that had two opposing viewpoints: Republican and Democrat. The fights that would ensue over the dinner table were outrageous, and I wanted no part of it. I vowed to NEVER be one of those people. As I got older, obviously I started to get more involved (begrudgingly), and I tried to educate myself on both sides as much as I could stand without vomiting. I hate politics and I probably always will. Does it mean I’m uneducated? No. But does it mean I have to spend my days now creating content around a topic I hate? Just to prove a point?

If you know me and know my content, you know I have zero issue speaking my mind. Hell, I’m doing it right now, but this just doesn’t feel the same to me. If you get angry about something and want to share it, go for it. If all of this moves you to become more involved, great! Start reading, start fact-checking. We have to start somewhere.

For the influencers who are out there every day preaching about “having more uncomfortable conversations”, I’d like to hear about those conversations. I bet they’re few and far between, because the people who follow you likely agree with you. But it wouldn’t be an influencer post without some moral grandstanding!! And guess what? I have had uncomfortable conversations with people, and the only thing that happens is an agreement to be more divided. To talk less about it, and to talk less to each other. Isn’t that completely the opposite of what we should be going for? Shouldn’t we be looking for things that bring us together?

The point I’m trying to make is that I am HERE FOR IT if you want to have a political conversation, but I’m not seeking it out. I’m not a social justice warrior because I like to think of myself as a realist. I would love nothing more than to live in a peaceful utopia, free of hate and murder and senseless crime, but I’m also living on planet earth. It’s never going to be perfect. It can get better, but the sad thing is, I only see it getting worse. And I believe social media plays a BIG part of the fuel in this fire, which is another reason I step back from it. The constant needling at everything has gotten out of control. Did you know that ordering a fucking barbacoa burrito at Chipotle can make you a racist now? Did you know that?? Yea. Forgive me for not wanting to be a part of that insane conversation.

We live in “cancel culture”, where opinions are no longer even allowed on some mediums if they’re not the “right” opinion. That’s literally an oxymoron. It’s an opinion!! It isn’t fact!! So can you really blame someone for not wanting to speak out? I’m writing this post and I’m TERRIFIED of hitting the “publish” button because I know this viewpoint is an unpopular one. The thing is – I have a lot of friends who feel this way too, but none of them want to admit it out loud.

You can use your platform for a ton of good reasons. I’m sorry but the celebrities and influencers who pretend to give a fuck about politics every four years piss me off more than our President does (and he’s migraine-inducing). Go check out their content from two years ago. Where was the political dialogue then? They care so much but I guess it only counts to talk about these issues when everyone else is doing it?

Ohhh but it’s an election year! So?? These issues don’t magically go away once a President is elected. You think if Biden wins, all the systemic racism in our country is just going to disappear? You think if Trump wins, the “swamp” will finally be drained? Get real. This stuff matters ALL the time, regardless of what year it is. 2020 just happens to be an exceptionally bad dumpster fire that we’re all trying like hell to climb our way out of, and people are grabbing at anything they can to give them hope. I get it. But don’t get all preachy when you probably didn’t give a shit merely one year ago. Hypocrisy is one thing I definitely get fired up about. My friends who genuinely care about politics will send me links and want to talk about it in years that end in odd numbers too.

To that end, while we’re here, let me just put this out there: I really don’t like politicians. From either side. Name a President, any President. Didn’t like him. Hopefully one day I can say “didn’t like her” too. Sure, I liked some more than others, but ultimately I think they are all driven by money/power, and I have a hard time trusting them. I enjoyed watching Obama speak though – I always thought he sounded very intelligent and had a soothing voice – but even then, watching debates was about as fun for me as a colonoscopy. And that last one…Jesus Christ. Mute Trump’s mic during the 2 minute speeches. How hard would that have been?

Furthermore, do you know how much money is spent on these fucking campaigns?? It’s sick. You can Google how that works, but it’s usually some of their own money, and a lot of it comes from rich donors and some smaller ones too. Google “Super PAC’s” and that will help a bit, or read this article from The New Yorker, it’s interesting to see where that money comes from.

Anyway, that’s just how I feel. Just me. I’m not trying to make anyone feel the same way as me, because I believe that people should be able to make their own informed decisions. If you want to look to someone for guidance, I respect that and support it, but again, influencers aren’t news outlets. Do you really want to be getting your info from the 16-year old girl on TikTok who taught you how to Shuffle? Thanks, I’m all set. Don’t let someone else’s views be your own unless they truly ARE your own. And don’t feel pressured to share your views if you don’t want to.

If you want to try and convince me that I’m wrong, go ahead. I am not going to call you an idiot and rip you to shreds or call you a monster unless you tell me you’re a white supremacist or something. Then yes, you are a monster. I can’t see anyone with a brain debating that.

The thing I want to be consistent about is this: educate yourself. And register to vote. Link here to do that. The amount of people in this country who didn’t vote in 2016 is pretty outrageous. Here’s an article about that from The Washington Post.

A lot of people just feel like their vote doesn’t matter, but it does. This quote from that article stuck with me:

If voters in a democracy get the government they deserve, perhaps in the U.S. we deserve a government that doesn’t bother to show up.

Stepping outside your bubble and your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean fanning the flames on social media. If I vote and don’t share it on social media, does that mean I didn’t do it?? We run our lives now for the collection of those little red hearts, but you want to know how you can take action every single day? Work on being a better person in your every day life. Help people who need it, be kind to strangers, and listen to people who are different than you. And if you want to take further action (in a non-violent way, please), look into it and find some places to donate your time and/or money. Posting a meme or a quote is nice but it isn’t going to save the world, I promise you that.

Now you know how I feel about it. Doesn’t mean I don’t care about the issues. Doesn’t mean I don’t care about our country. I do, I just don’t feel like shouting it from my Instagram stories all the time and I don’t think that makes me a bad person. Yet, most people reading this have probably canceled me already and called me ignorant. That’s fine, I’ve come to accept it.

Overarching theme: just do your own research and form your own opinion and don’t be a douche to people who don’t feel the same way. Sounds simple in theory, but it’s tough in practice.

And if you’re interested in some reading, check out the below.

LINKS

Here’s one issue where the division gap is definitely wider, unsurprisingly. Race/gender attitudes:

https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2020/09/10/voters-attitudes-about-race-and-gender-are-even-more-divided-than-in-2016/

Poll tracker:

https://www.270towin.com/2020-polls-biden-trump/

Breakdown of Biden vs Trump key issues:

https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-ELECTION/POLICY/ygdpzwarjvw/

Biden vs Trump Economic Policies:

https://www.marketplace.org/2020/09/18/comparing-bidens-and-trumps-economic-policies/

This one was crazy. Not hard to argue, sadly, but interesting re: the psychology of Trump supporters:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mind-in-the-machine/201712/analysis-trump-supporters-has-identified-5-key-traits?page=1

I found these two particularly interesting, because I can’t even IMAGINE living in a town where supporting Biden would get backlash:

https://www.kwtx.com/2020/10/06/biden-supporters-in-local-suburb-receive-threatening-profanity-filled-letters/

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article246056005.html

Here’s one on where that campaign money goes after the election:

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/042716/what-happens-campaign-funds-after-elections.asp

And Super PACs:

https://campaignlegal.org/update/pacs-super-pacs-dark-money-groups-whats-difference

How Trump won in 2016:

https://www.npr.org/2016/11/12/501848636/7-reasons-donald-trump-won-the-presidential-election

Yikes, just yikes:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/07/politics/donald-trump-coronavirus/index.html

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