Donald Trump is an incompetent liar.
Hillary is a shady crook.
Human trafficking is the greatest evil of our time.
I’ve been analyzing a data set. Granted, it’s my own and from the results of my own posts and writings, so not a wide array of information. Nevertheless, I am aware of when I write a blog or post articles on my social media which ones get the most traffic and interest.
It’s become clear to me that comments, likes, and clicks are like votes. Each time we comment, like, or click, it’s a vote showing where our heart cares most. When we are elated and celebratory, we cast a vote. When we are offended and threatened, we cast a vote. That’s what comments and likes do. They show everyone where you spend your votes, what rules your heart.
Now I struggle with this, because as a writer it’s become increasingly clear what topics stir the pot — which opinions brings out the masses. Having access to that data, I have to consciously decide to not pursue numbers and to stick to topics that have lasting impact, the ones that are near to my heart. Every time I post something to my blog, I pray it influences just one person for good, and that’s enough, because otherwise the numbers become addicting.
But I can’t help but notice the overwhelming amounts of feedback and comments I get when I post something related to politics. Or something that may be interpreted as “political.” It’s crazy — people start doing odd things, like writing me emails, sending messages, or even calling me. If I were in business, I would be like, “I definitely found the market!”
But I have a problem with this.
Let’s go back to those introductory phrases above. One is negative towards Trump, the other towards Hillary. The thing is, my social network is pretty much split over these 2 people. Some hate one, some hate the other.
Posting something related to either of these two individuals evoke an visceral emotional reaction from, it seems, everybody. And I hear “You’re right on!” or “You’re a stupid head!”
Yet for each one political post I throw on social media, I have probably shared at least 10 articles and posts talking about the realities of sex trafficking. The plight of the poor. The exploitation of the vulnerable. The lost without a home.
How children in our neighborhoods are secretly being sex trafficked.
How pornography is the fuel for the massive sex trafficking economy.
How men, women, and children are literally sold as slaves in “slave-free” countries.
How sexual assault, abuse and discrimination are rampant towards all women, including myself.
And there is nary a word in response.
Slim votes. Minor care.
After seeing all the quick and lively comments and conversation about politics, I’m sitting here thinking, “Where did all you guys go??”
Why is it we are so passionate about defending (and defeating) political positions, and yet can not have that same passion towards fellow human beings? To my own network I say, why so enthralled by majoring on the minors? You show up to “Amen” a post that affirms your political stance, or, to the other, show up to discredit the incompetence of the same post, but when it comes to things that really matter, it’s all silent on the home-front?
You’re casting your votes, showing your colors.
And I really don’t know why. I want to assume it’s because we feel too vulnerable to actually show care for sensitive topics like trafficking on open social media platforms. Or perhaps we’re just vastly unaware. I don’t know why — I just see the votes.
And I’ve been there, and still feel the pull. The gut-reaction to make sure someone is set right and knows the real truth of the matter. But I normally end up walking away feeling . . . like I wasted a lot of time and effort for something that had no tangible results (besides pitting someone against me, of course).
I’m reminded of Isaiah 58, one of the chapters in the Bible that has literally been the most transformative ones in my life. The first half is a rebuke to the religious performance of “good” people, who I’m sure had really solid, air-tight opinions:
“On your day of fasting you do as you please and exploit your workers, and it ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do and expect your voice to be heard on high.”
God then transitions to talk about the fast, the life of faith, that he directly calls us to:
“This is the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice, to see the oppressed free and break every chain. Is it not to share your food with the hungry and the provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked to clothe them? If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness.”
That’s the life I want, the life I’ve been pursing, one that is more action and less talk. But I’ve had to question things recently: do my friends, do the people in my life, seek this out as well? Who is in my circle? Those who will stand in the gap for the oppressed, or those who will point fingers and quarrel?
What are my friends voting for, and is that what I choose to surround myself with?
I think that’s why more and more I like spending time with the poor. They seem to see things a bit more clearly and aren’t concerned with winning arguments because they are just trying to live. Also, many are some of the most giving, generous people I’ve ever met. They inspire me.
Because if all we can do is defend a position, we have missed everything in life. We become troll junkies, looking for the next comment thread fix to satisfy our insatiable need of being right.
If I can suggest something, try love and ridiculous generosity. It is much harder to do. And more rewarding.
I dare you.