The popcorn effect!
Right after the election I applied the “Popping effect,” the “popping” that goes on after you stick a packet of popcorn seeds inside a microwave oven and turn on the timer. In a matter of seconds comes the first one…pop! And then comes the second…pop, pop! And the third ….pop, pop, pop! Then suddenly there comes the many… pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop… with overlap and no time in between each pop.
And then there are few. And then there are none.
Now here’s what was in the “packet” I inserted into my social media “oven,” wanting to satisfy my curiosity about how relationships were impacted by the results of the election. Given that the respondents were evenly split across racial lines, I’ll leave it to your imagination to assign a racial identity to each quote:
Given that a huge majority of white men and 53% of white women voted for Trump, I wasn’t surprised by the number of people who unfriended and ceased all but necessary communication with people who they discovered voted for Trump. Said one, “When I heard that they pulled the lever for Trump, to me they pulled the trigger for hate, misogyny, racism, and white supremacy and sexual violence. And these were folks I thought were my fair-minded “friends.” I’ve lost respect for them and feel betrayed.” So what say ye my readers?
The first pop:
“I felt the same way and immediately went on an “unfriend” and “unfollow spree. “In rapid succession came pops two, three and four:
“So far I am not aware of anyone who actually pulled the lever although I have my suspect list. If revealed, then I would not unfriend them. I would demand that they simply acknowledge that Trump invited and attracted a racist element to his campaign and that many of his supporters are racist. If unwillingly to acknowledge this, then the eject/reject button will be pushed.”
“I’ve blocked several including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ve lost respect and don’t care to associate with them any longer.”
“Yes, I have unfriended a few. Not because of their vote, because of the blind comments made. I also blocked the non – voters. They are in the same basket. As I write this, I realize that now I am the intolerant one and I don’t want to be that either.”
Now to pops five through nine:
“I would never unfriend anyone for their vote because it is their vote! Life is all about having free will and our own opinions. I would be more concerned about their actions, and what they say or do!
“I have not unfriended anyone and have no intention of doing so. Everyone has the right to vote for their choice. Do I agree with them? No, but I also believe in the saying that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer!”
“The thought that people I work with – and have come to respect – would actually vote for Trump floors me. I mean we all heard what he said about women, people with disabilities, black folks and Muslims. Now if they did, I prefer they not share that with me because I will still work with them although our relationship will never be the same.”
“My view is that unlike the purchase of new car where you can select certain options and take a pass on others, with Trump you get the whole package, warts and all.”
“Terry, this is the first time that I’ve ever cried over an election. However, I keep telling myself that one man shouldn’t wreck lifetime friendships. Someone said, LISTEN, so I’m trying!”
Now when the oven’s buzzer when off, I retrieved the packet and waited a few moments for it to cool off. But, there was one more pop, maybe the loudest one of all:
“My what a difference 8 years make. When President Obama was elected in 2008, I was taken aback when some of my “close” white friends started to distance themselves from me. So I guess that now I get to return the favor! ”
So herein lies the damn if you do, damn if you don’t conundrum; do you side-step the question if it gets anywhere near who you voted for? Or do you just come clean with the truth? Should workplaces simply tamp down on and prohibit any discussion of politics in the workplace? And with any of those choices, what are the potential consequences?
Sure, the election is over, but the repercussions may be just beginning as folks return to work, and as families come together next week for Thanksgiving, where relationships among relatives could be tested across the political divide ….and across the dinner table.
In parting, here’s my advice before navigating through conversations about the election next week …..stick to the turkey!
© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, story teller and senior associate with Diversity Wealth. He is also a member of the Cross Cultural Academy, the founder of the Global Diversity Consortium, a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, New York-based Catalyst and the American Diversity Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org