Let’s (NOT) Keep Politics Out of It!

“Please keep the politics bs off this page. There are other forums for that.” — My Facebook troll

I got “trolled” recently on my RA Facebook page by an angry (and rather rude) person who didn’t agree with my political leanings. This person first voiced his disapproval of me because of a post I had written about the Senate taking a major step towards repealing The Affordable Care Act (ACA) in mid-January. The New York Times article I posted on my page reported the Senate approving a budget blueprint that would be able to “gut” the healthcare law without the threat of a Democratic filibuster.

The ACA or “Obamacare” as its opponents lovingly nicknamed it, has helped me profoundly since it was enacted in 2010. Understandably, I became quite emotional about the NYT article and the possibility of the ACA being repealed. I strongly feel that the ACA has been saving my life for all of these years, along with Medicaid, so I cannot keep quiet about it.

These are touchy times…

These are “touchy times,” as my friend recently said one day, and it seems like everyone is hyper-sensitive about what’s going on in U.S. politics right now. And why shouldn’t they be? It’s a turbulent, unprecedented mess, as far as I’m concerned–and a scary one at that. However, sensitive or not, I don’t think people should be rude, disrespectful, or insulting when or if they have a differing opinion from someone else.

Many “trolls” (and others) use the shield of the Internet’s anonymity to say horrible things to other people without having to deal with them in real life. All of the ugly “us vs. them” political attacks I’ve been seeing online lately are disgusting, yet so easy to do when you don’t have to look into the face of the person at whom you’re screaming.

Have I been guilty of this sometimes? Trolling, no–I hope. But I’m sure I’ve written some sarcastic and emotional comments on social media since that fateful election day in November (and during the campaign). My emotions have been heated and frayed and splashed all over the place in response to the election results and the seemingly insane things that have been happening since Trump became President.

My Facebook Troll…

However, I hope I haven’t been as “expressive” as my Facebook “troll.” He not only wrote immature, bullying comments on my post but then took it upon himself to post even more rude comments on past posts to warn others of my apparently evil liberal ways. What effort! If only that effort could have been put into having a genuine, meaningful conversation with me about our differences. I tried several times to engage him this way but continued to be met with insults.

While I don’t want to impede on anybody’s right to free speech or shut down a conversation just because I disagree with something, my critic’s continual rude harassment forced me to ban him from my page. Do I feel good or empowered by this? No, not at all. I feel sad and disappointed; I don’t want to have to ban anybody. I want to have respectful, productive conversations that don’t resort to name-calling, unfair judgment, and snide remarks.

During these tumultuous times of rampant Internet trolling and mass “unfriendings” on social media, I wonder: Should I “keep politics out of it” when I write about my own experiences living with RA? Does my Facebook critic/troll have a valid point and I’m just unwilling to see it? Should I forget the worrying news updates every day and instead talk about how I’m sick of eating veggie burgers and that my anemia is back?

While I do understand that many people feel uncomfortable and anxious talking about politics publicly (or at all), I don’t want to hide and keep silent. There are important political issues, such as the likely repeal of the ACA, that will hurt not only my life in a major way but also the lives of millions of other people. It kind of feels like a cruel slap in the face to humanity to ignore these things and instead munch on my gluten-free crackers like nothing’s wrong.

The ACA and RA

I often wish I could pretend that nothing’s wrong, and remain ignorant and blissful watching Netflix instead of worrying about millions of people suffering from a lack of healthcare. I feel it’s my duty to speak up–for myself, my grandma who suffered terribly from crippling RA for years, and for all of my RA friends and those with other pre-existing conditions. Not everyone agrees with my views on this, of course.

BUT–if you can’t see how crucially intertwined the current political state is with my life as an RA patient and chronic illness sufferer, then you probably shouldn’t follow me on social media. Healthcare will always be an important and necessary issue in my life, thanks to RA putting it on the top of my list 18 years ago.

“Silence is violence”–Anonymous

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