It was said that the in the year 2020 political rhetoric would reach extremes not seen in modern times. I recall hearing pundits and talking heads warning about foreign election meddling and fake news. I had no idea how personally all of it would affect me.
Tribeless and Lost Isn’t Exactly a New Thing
In 2008, before the big market crash, I was an optimistic technology enthusiast. I wasn’t making a ton of money. I was relatively junior in the field. However, I had a lot of hope in what the future could hold.
That hope was greatly diminished after attending two tech conferences in early 2009. I had recently been laid off, found out my wife was expecting twins, and falling behind on my mortgage payments.
Before those conferences, I thought of technology and software as the great equalizer. Power and opportunity were equally available to anyone with a great idea and the ability to implement it. I was naive.
What I saw at those conferences, were cliques of people with influence. There was a “cool kid” atmosphere. If you weren’t part of it, you weren’t getting in. Ideas weren’t currency. Social position was value. It was a caste system and I wasn’t high up on the totem pole.
I left Texas demoralized. I was unemployed, socially outside, and feeling mounting pressure to resolve issues that *felt* outside of my control. At the time, my coping mechanism was alcohol, which I dove into heavily. It made things much worse.
2020 Feels Like 2009
Since 2009, a lot of things have happened. However, 2020 feels very similar to 2009. The economy has tanked. My finances are stretched, The fitness I once had has gone. I’m parenting a new child. And, like 2008/2009, the politics of the world seem far different than my own.
I’ve seen repeated news stories deceive it’s viewers and lie about truths. I’ve watched friends repeat false stories and crisis tales of doom. And, to my regret, I’ve spoken out against what I see as dishonesty. Once again, my opinion has fallen on deaf ears. My voice is not part of the “cool kid” crowd.
Tribeless in the Panic of Pandemics
When the corona-virus first broke out, I was skeptical. After a few weeks, I was very concerned. A few weeks after that, I was skeptical again. What I saw was much ado about not that much. I still see things this way. Many friends and family of mine are upset with me for having this view.
What makes that hard, is that the conversation tends to fall into one of 2 positions:
- You believe the hype, you want national mask mandates, you shame those who do not believe you
- You do not believe the hype, you reject all mask wearing, you cry about government tyranny surrounding lockdowns.
I don’t fall into either of those categories. Protect yourself and be courteous to others. Those are simple principles that inform good decision making.
Racism, Protests, Riots, and Loss
When George Floyd died, I was taken back by the cruelty it took to murder a man in such a callous way. He certainly wasn’t a role model, but he also did nothing to deserve his own death. When protests and riots first broke out, I was relatively supportive. Racism still exists in the country. It’s not acceptable. It’s up to all of us to do what we can to eliminate it.
A number of other police shootings happened after. All of them appeared justified. To hear the cries of systemic racism again was an unacceptable level of cognitive dissonance. Agreeing with what was clearly false felt like coercion. The legitimate calls to end racism had taken a dark turn into fealty.
I couldn’t accept it, and I spoke out about it. To date, I’ve lost 20 friends over it. Most are black. I’m not sure how to describe how demoralizing that is. I love my friends very much. I want happiness and success for all of them. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll blindly agree with them because they want me to.
In Defense of the Donald
Perhaps most interestingly, I’ve found myself defending a president I didn’t vote for. Before the corona-virus escaped from China last December/January, our economy was in the best position it had ever been. My finances were in good shape. I was building a house with my new fiance.
I watched the Democratic party impeach the president over clearly false charges. It seemed like a desperate attempt to sway hard-core leftist voters to join the party that constantly thwarted hard-core leftist politicians from getting the presidential nomination.
At the time, I really didn’t care what Donald Trump had to say about anything. He certainly didn’t reflect anything about me. His detractors didn’t reflect anything about me either. I’m a libertarian. I’m used to being on the outside.
However, I believe in truth. I believe in examining statements. I cannot go along with dishonesty. The charge against Donald Trump is riddled with thousands of lies and half-truths. The truth is that Donald is an imperfect person who had a very good presidential track record until 2020. The failures that have occurred since then are not all of his. However, most talking heads chalk all failures up to him.
2020 Changed My Outlook
After watching the deception of CNN, MSNBC, NPR, New York Times, Washington Post, and an impossibly long list of other news media outlets, I found myself questioning all things I heard. While I didn’t like having to second guess everything I read, that wasn’t the worst thing that happened. I noticed that nearly all of my friends and family were not questioning what they heard.
Writing this, feels overwhelming. There are so many examples of events that have had me asking “what in the actual fuck?” that I hardly know where to begin. In fact, it’s likely useless to try. Instead, I can say with surety that the culture of the world has evolved into something that I don’t understand.
Most of my family is likely voting for Joe Biden. I don’t talk specifics with them. The conversation is taboo, because it always devolves into people echoing talking points from media personalities or politicians.
Tribeless in Politics
Politics seems to have turned into a sports team mentality. There’s a sort of “my team is better than your team” conversation that dominates news and social media. Both conservatives and leftists conflate ideas to demonize their opponents and legitimize their “team”.
I want no part of it. I want government and politics to leave me alone. Neither of these groups seem to be ready to completely leave me alone though. So, when I vote in November, I’ll be voting for the “team” that appears to be most likely to leave me the most alone.
That doesn’t mean I belong in their tribe. That only means I have a temporary alliance with a tribe that I don’t agree with on a ton of things, because the “other” tribe seems more likely to negatively affect me.
Tribeless in Culture
This isn’t such a new concept. I’m a big death metal fan. Mainstream music has never been something I understand.
I’m likely to vote for candidates put forth by conservatives. That doesn’t mean I like all things conservatives say. That doesn’t mean I want to live in a world with all conservatives. On balance, most of them are pretty lame. Have you ever watched a movie by a conservative and thought it was really good? It happens, but it’s rare.
Watching leftist movies and TV isn’t easy though. There are constant demonizations and mischaracterizations in films that are otherwise hugely entertaining. The compartmentalization it takes to watch those films is significant.
Tribeless in Conflict
There’s talk about a civil war happening after elections. I have a sort of morbid satisfaction in this. It’s hard to describe. I don’t want violence. Certainly, peaceful discussion is preferable to war. But, I also want this divisiveness to end. I want to go back to hopeful discussion about the future. I don’t know how to get there.
If civil war erupts, how does that look in my neighborhood? Does that break down by Democrat / Republican? What is a Libertarian to do? Does that turn into a war between races? My favorite neighbors are Indian and Black. There’s zero chance I would ever even argue with them.
I don’t belong to any of these “sides” or “teams”. Again, I just want to live my life and be left alone. That last part, as it turns out, is the saddest part. I’ve resigned myself to the idea that the happiest I can be, is if the rest of the world just leaves me alone.