Dear bloggers, instagrammers, and anyone with a social media profile,
Boy, we've had it rough since the election, haven't we? Is it just me, or does it feel like an awkward time to be in the business of writing about life- big, fun, beautiful, messy life?! Ever since the lucid, waking nightmare that was Tuesday night, getting back to business as usual (in my case, posts about mountains, Lyme Disease and my dog) feels tricky! Because a big, bad thing happened! So, with all of us in mind, I decided to break the ice and write a post about how in the world we can return to filtering and documenting our happy (sometimes!) and messy (so messy!) sometimes funny, mostly precious, warm and wonderful lives:
We can't get back to our normal lives because our lives are not normal any more. The appointment of an Alt Right leader as Whitehouse Chief Strategist is not normal. Having as a president-elect be the only world leader who claims that global warming is a hoax is not normal. Talk of forcing Muslim Americans to register, the same way that Jews were required to register during world war II Germany is not normal.
And we as writers and photographers and bloggers, we cannot be the ones to normalize it.
The administration that is going to lead our country starting January 21st have made it clear to us that they don't need to bother 'normalizing' their proposed policies by softening their language or mincing their words. They were elected on a platform or blatant fear-mongering, divisiveness, bigotry and hate speak. They are not appealing to us- they never have been. They realize that over half the country will disagree with them fundamentally. They're not depending on us to outright support them- they never needed our support. But they are depending on us to ignore them. To make it easy for them.
They're hoping that we just return to our lives and pretend this is not happening, or be too exhausted or scared to speak up, to get out of their way and shut up and return to what we find safe, and comfortable, and soothing.
Here is exactly what that would look like:
Rape culture just claimed a major win, and while that bothers me, I never took a women's studies class, so I wouldn't be very articulate, or very profound, so I'm going to leave that up to the feminist scholars and instead, I'm going to write about the camping trip I took last week.
A wave of hate crimes is washing over this country, shattering our society, causing my friends and I to feel scared when we leave the house to pick up groceries. How would I ever address something like that on my blog, or in an instagram picture? Instead, I'm going to write a particularly cozy piece about the holidays so we can all enjoy a few moments of comfort, we certainly need it.
I do not agree with the idea that we should rip apart families by deporting millions of people, but what you have to understand is, I'm a brand-rep, and I've been told to keep it neutral, because it's the holidays, and we have to sell these T-shirts. Or baby slings. Or moccasins. Or whatever.
My blog is small, and personal, and could not possibly have any sway on the way others think. So I get a pass on this one.
Or, let's get real here-
I worked for years building up my platform, my readers, and this is my job, so I'm not going to 'out' myself as having any persuasions or opinions that could lose me a portion of those followers.
Alright, so what- are we all supposed to go back to school and study political science and become experts in the field? Are we supposed to ignore our own lives because they're just not important any more? If I post a picture of my cute dog, am I enabling conversion therapy for gay people?
Nah. Listen. Our individual lives are just as important as they were a week ago. Our cute dogs are probably even more important than they've ever been before. (Shout out to my dog, Hometeam, for absorbing with her fur a thousand tears that I've cried this week.) It's just that we have to learn to do both. Let's dissolve the label we've assigned- this blog is about babies, this one's about climbing, crafts, economics, religion, tips on decluttering the household- No.
We are all writing, in our own way, about the our current world and how we make sense and find meaning in that world. Period. And, for the majority of Americans anyway, our current world just blew up.
It might be awkward at first. Let it be awkward. "And that concludes my photo essay about my toddler's winter wardrobe, and by the way, the idea of dismantling our national parks really bums me out because I really want to take said toddler to Yosemite, wearing the little fur jacket you saw in photo #4."
Maybe it's your tagline : thanks for reading, everyone, love you all, Melina (who fervently believes that abortion should be kept safe and legal.)
Do we have to be so vocal every damn post? Nah. Will I? Nah. Here and there. When an issue of particular relevance to us comes to the forefront. Maybe when we feel particularly lost and outraged (as I do, every time I learn something new about Steve Bannon and the Breitbart News Channel, whose Headlines have read "Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy" and "Bill Kristol, Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew." I don't know, just doesn't sit right with me.)
Do we need to be addressing our outrage on every post and picture for the next four years? Of course not. We'd implode. We'd lose our minds, and what good would that do? But we have to be willing to try and strike a balance, even if it does feel awkward, or your hands get clammy, or you have to run to delete it the first three times. Courage accumulates gradually, like snow.
Let's make it totally normal for regular people like you and me to have an opinion and to talk about it on our blogs and our instagram feeds. That should feel right. And while we're at it, let's have faith in the people who follow us that they won't instantly leave us, that they may actually be interested in what we have to say and appreciate the opportunity to engage with us on that deeper level.
And finally, for those of you thinking: my blog is my own, and I can write or not write whatever I damn well want. Well, you're right. That's certainly what I shouted at the screen a few years ago when The Wilder Coast made its first appearance on the internet hate site Get Off My Internets. This is mine, haters, I can write whatever the hell I want to.
As long as you're not being silent because you don't think you have any influence- you do.
As long as you are not backing down because you aren't an expert, or particularly well worded- you don't have to be.
Or because you're not unbiased- we're all biased.
As long as you're not silent because you're scared of losing followers because what has happened and what is about to - potentially- happen, is a far cry more important than the number of people who look at your Instagram photos. I'm sorry. But you know it is.
As long as you fully understand the ramifications of looking away because it's uncomfortable, or because it hasn't effected you personally yet. History has told what happens when we do that.
I'm calling on you.
(Who really, totally depends on affordable health care that does not discriminate against pre-existing conditions.)
(And, since we're doing taglines, is still, yes still, slowly, steadily, and with great purpose, moving through her thank you letter list!)