One of the side-effects of depersonalization is sometimes questioning and double-guessing yourself and therefore reality (or your perception of it). At least it seems to have been a symptom of mine. Maybe it magnified the insecurities I already had? Made them more magnified under a more critical lens? I don’t know. Either way, it’s been a very difficult thing to deal with.
Looking at it from a different angle: it’s like when someone tells a joke, everyone laughs, but you don’t get the punchline. That’s the feeling I have been getting with this particular aspect of depersonalization.
This has boiled to the surface recently with the 2020 US General Election and the aftermath of that with some of my friends and family.
I think, in this case, is the line of thinking of voting for the reelection such an inept, corrupt, self-centered, narcissist like Donald Trump — especially in light of the disaster his tenure as President of the United States of America has been — boggles my mind.
One person I know (from all accounts) voted for a second term for Trump because the Democrats allegedly are stealing kids and smuggling them through Pizza Huts nationwide to feed to Satan-worshipping aliens on cloaked ships hovering over the United States of America. (I embellished it a bit, but seriously, that’s what I might as well have been told.)
Never mind the actual children locked in actual cages by the Trump Administration’s policies that we have all clearly seen on television and through the media.
Any rational person trying to make an informed choice on who they wanted as their next President of the United States would look at these two things, and hopefully, if they had both common sense and a caring cell in their body, vote against Trump.
Another person I know used an internet chart going around comparing the Black Lives Matter movement (especially the protests and marches, but especially hinting at the riots associated with a small group of protesters) to the insurrection and attempted coup initiated by Trump supporters at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.
To walk this back a few steps: I do not condone riots or damaging buildings or looting. I can understand the anger behind those actions, being a gay man myself and having been discriminated against, sometimes so overwhelmingly I feel like I want to scream and smash a lot of shit. I get that anger, and I get that frustration. But misguiding it into physical violence is never the right way to make your point.
That being said, the Black Lives Matter movement — highlighting centuries’ worth of inequality and oppression against people with black or brown skin by both society and the system in general — is one meant to bring people together to peacefully demand change to create a newer, fairer system for all. It should spur us all — again, peacefully — to work towards ensuring those who do have darker skin get the same shot at equality, liberty, and justice as those of us who were born with lighter skin.
Let’s remember that only a small minority of people associated with the Black Lives Matter movement used violence, rioting, and looting. Let’s also question how many people not associated with the movement used the opportunity to incite chaos for their own gain.
Let’s also take into account that:
- There were far more people involved for a longer period of time in the Black Lives Matter movement so therefore there is more context and situations to draw from than the insurrection at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.
- The desired outcomes of the two protests have two very different “vibes” to them.
Breaking this down as simply as I can, the desired outcomes of the two protests, as I and many other people see it, are:
- Black Lives Matter
- To highlight the racial injustices in American society and governmental systems and
- To demand changes to diminish / rid society and government of those injustices
- Through peaceful actions and demonstrations
- “Stop the Steal”: (For lack of a better term for the movement):
- To disrupt or overthrow the legitimately elected officials in the American Government (including detaining, harming, and / or killing those officials);
- To interfere, intimidate, or halt the legitimate and final legal process to confirm the next duly-elected President of the United States of America; and
- To install the loser (by over 7 million votes) of the 2020 US General Election as the President of the United States for a second term
- Through violent actions, insurrection, and attempted coup in an attempt to terrorize or enforce compliance on the general public based on:
- debunked lies about the 2020 US General Election
- Trump unable / unwilling to personally accept his loss in a legitimate election
- Republican enablers reinforcing the debunked likes and ratcheting up the rhetoric with inflammatory language, and
- the premise that everyone who says, does, or pushes against Trump is wrong and he is right; that somehow the vast amount of people and organizations in the United States and the world are somehow wrong (even though there is overwhelming evidence to point to they are right) and one person (Trump) is right.
Basically, one is meant to affect change through peaceful means, the other through violent means.
Back to the Black Lives Matter movement: as a poster on TikTok quite rightly said, there are white people and there are people who have white skin.
People who have white skin understand their privilege, see the inequalities and unfairness in society and the system, and are working in whatever way they can to help people with black or brown skin gain equality, liberty, and justice. (I would like to think I am one of those people. I do try.)
White people, he said, are people who either don’t care about inequality, are indifferent about it, or want to actively keep white people elevated above black and brown people because (for whatever crazy reason) they feel the color of their skin gives them more rights than others.
White people, he continued, were the ones who marched on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.
What happened at the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 was anti-American.
It was based on the premise that there were illegal votes and voting. There has been, and continues to be, no evidence of illegal votes and voting, but the underlying message here is that black- and brown-skinned voters should have less right to vote, as should liberal-leaning voters. All the areas where the vote was called into question, interestingly enough, were led by liberal-leaning voters (mail-in votes) and voters with black and brown skin. These include Detroit and Atlanta.
In short: it’s racism and conservatism dressed up in an American flag. White people should have all the toys, all the rights, hold all the cards, and black and brown people should be happy with the scraps, being treated like 3/5ths of a person like the “good old days”.
I could go on about this more, but I think that’s for another blog at another time.
With people I know pushing these crazy things, I start to question myself and my own beliefs, especially when the people who spout or post these things are people I care about and love and thought I knew.
In counselling on Wednesday, I spoke to my counselor about these feelings. Do I defriend because I feel the gap is too wide now between where that friend and I stand? Why does the thought of that cause me so much anxiety? When a mutual friend defriended that friend on social media, it made that friend pretty upset; I don’t want to make people upset. But then again, I am getting upset by seeing this stuff that friend is posting because it’s not close to my values, and I’m not sure I want to continue to be friends with someone who is, at best, not close to my values or, at worst, running contrary to my values.
Last year, around the time of the election, I defriended some friends and family members and also muted other ones due to our contrasting political beliefs.
Let me clarify that a bit: the defriending came because most, if not all, of those friends and family members were antagonistic towards anything I wrote, even if I supplied evidence and proof. Even if I had experiences that those friends and family hadn’t had so had no right to question my honesty or the facts I was presenting.
If a family member (let’s say) is antagonistic in every interaction, I don’t feel I need that person in my life. It kills me to say that or do that, but I don’t need toxicity in my life.
Getting back to depersonalization: there’s a part of me that asks, “Scott, are you over-reacting? Are you digging your toes a little too deeply into the sand? Are you understanding what this person is saying? Can you meet them halfway?”
But then the core of me says: “You’ve got to stand up for what you believe in. When you speak, people listen because you’re pretty level-headed, you’re smart, you write well, you can articulate your point; your voice can help amplify those voices that can’t be heard as loudly or as well as yours.”
As a gay man, I have had to fight for many of my rights. Those before me have laid the groundwork, prepared the foundation, hell, even built the ground floor. But those in our community have had to fight to not be fired from our jobs merely because of who we loved. We’ve had to fight for equal rights, for recognition, for acknowledgement, for acceptance. We’ve had to fight to get the same rights as straight spouses and the right to get legally married. There are so many battles we have had to fight, and continue to fight, to this day.
Quite a few straight, white, Christian people in the USA do not understand, and have never had to participate, in a struggle like that. They do not understand the pain, the anguish, the anxiety, the frustration, the anger, nay, the rage that can come with those battles, over and over and over again.
So, despite my depersonalization sometimes making me question what is true and what is not, I need to listen to my heart and draw strength from my experiences.
I need to not turn my head the other way.
I need to call out racism, and homophobia, and transphobia, and whacky conspiracy theories when I see them.
I need to use my words and my voice and my writing to make the world a safer, more inclusive place.
I need to use my words and my voice and my writing to convince others to make the world a safer, more inclusive place. For all of us.