Like many of you, I have had a lot on my mind (and heart) over the past few days. I have read a lot of reactions online and decided to share my own thoughts by using the word disconnect as my current frame of reference.

disconnect: (noun), a lack of understanding or agreement

When you have the privilege of working on college campuses as long as I have, especially in student affairs, there are defining moments that test not only your professional stamina, but your personal stamina as well. As an advisor, mentor, and supervisor to hundreds of students over my (almost) 20 year career, I have been trained to support and challenge our students through their educational process. So, my first disconnect right now is trying to find ways to support students who shared (or not shared) that they voted for Donald Trump (when I fundamentally disagree with who he is as a leader). This past Wednesday, at our campus town hall forum, I learned that many of them remain(ed) silent because they did not feel comfortable or safe saying they did. This reminds me that as difficult as it may be, my role on campus is to continue supporting ALL students as best as I can.

This leads me to my second disconnect, which is how deeply divided we really are. It saddens me to think that some of my family and friends are on a different side of this divide, because at the end of the day, I still love them. I fear that the holiday’s this year, while already tough for some, will be hard on all of us as we try to find common ground on what is next for our country, along our individual and collective roles in moving forward.

What I wish folks would acknowledge is that for many in our country, this will be distinctly harder because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. If you find yourself saying a few days after the election that “we all just need to move on”, consider how fortunate you are. Are you trying to understand why there are so many nationwide protests? Imagine your entire life being treated as a second-class or no-class citizen because of who you are. The disconnect from empathy for fellow Americans is deeply troubling.

My third disconnect is with myself. I was very ‘social media’ quiet during the election cycle and did not actively use my digital voice because I rarely discuss politics or religion online. If you have ever heard me teach or speak, I often advise folks not to use social media in this way and to save those topics for in-person conversations. Sure, I would ‘like’ other people’s posts, but I was not as active as I could be. This disconnect has left me feeling guilty that I was not more engaged.

Which leads me to my final disconnect….

disconnect: (verb), to sever or interrupt the connection of or between; detach

I believe that, for many of us who are active social media users, it is time for a break from social media. Please consider disconnecting for how ever long would work best for you (one day, one week, one month). While I have seen a number of folks already starting to do this, its important to do so for your own mental health. If/when you come reconnect, feel prune your social networks as needed. Use the unfollow option on Facebook if you want to maintain that online connection, but not see their posts in your newsfeed, or unfriend folks as needed. On Twitter, if you want to unfollow someone or some brand, but still stay connected, you can create and add them to lists. Always remember that the posts you see in your social media newsfeeds reflect your active connections.

As a suggestion, instead of (or in addition to) posting your thoughts, feelings, or reactions about the election on social media, reach out to five people and ask them the following the questions:

  • How are you doing since the election?
  • How are others around you doing? Have you checked in with them?
  • Do you need anything? Can I help?

We need to spend more time together, unplugged, listening to one another. Not just to respond, but to really hear what the other person(s) are saying. If we really want to be the United States of America, we all have to work to overcome being disconnected with one another by seeking understanding instead of having an instant response. Let’s not allow the pursuit of being right surpass doing the right thing by/for one another.

And to be absolutely clear: I want to live in an America that values and respects all people, because of and including their differences. I will try to be better, both in person and online, through words and deeds to support those who are disenfranchised. As I thought about this, I saw and posted this graphic on social media as a repost because as it perfectly captured just some of my thoughts and feelings:

ifyouneedme_poem

I am sure I have many other disconnects that I’m forgetting or will encounter in the days, weeks, and months ahead. So for now, thank you for reading and allowing me to share a few thoughts. 

Oh, and if you need me, I’m here. So, I ask you…

  • How are you doing since the election?
  • How are others around you doing? Have you checked in with them?
  • Do you need anything? Can I help?

3 Comments

  • Thank you for giving me the words that express how I feel. I couldn’t even face people Wednesday. When I saw where things were headed Tuesday night, I couldn’t sleep. I struggle in a couple of ways. First, I can’t believe THIS country elected such a person for ANY reason. I’m embarrassed for myself and my country. Second, I can’t belie ve that so many of my fellow citizens that desperate or feel that much hatred. Like you, I have mostly unplugged. I don’t feel like I belong in a place that would elect a man like that. I thought I knew what this country is about. I can’t believe I was so wrong. For the first time in my life, I’m worried about the world I’m leaving to my daughter and grandsons. I’m just so incredibly sad.

  • Hello Ed,

    Thank for your words and thoughts about our current situation as a nation. It has given me a lot to think about and more tools for my toolkit to assist my members of the human family.

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