In the past, I have always heeded sage advice and avoided using this blog to discuss politics and politicians, in particular. It never works for authors to refer to their own political leanings in print, online, or social media conversations. Inevitably, fans with different political leanings will turn away, sometimes feeling so betrayed by you that they actively dissuade potential readers. That’s the kiss of death. So why do it today?
Because I’m in the position of a woman anxiously waiting by my phone for a certain man to call. But the entire trope is upside down, which makes it noteworthy, at least to this author. Usually, said woman is hoping to be pleased if not thrilled when Ms./Mr. Right finally phones. I know this. I write romances. The anticipation is pleasant, spiced with the normal dread of disappointment.
But that’s not the way I feel. I don’t like this. It feels scary and wrong. I don’t want Big Orange having access to my ever-present cellphone that I’ve been told can gather information about me by not only listening in but also providing real time video. For two days I’ve been hearing that Big Orange is going to phone every American’s cellphone to test a new national alert system. While I can’t object to the government being able to alert its citizens in case of emergencies, the anticipation I feel is near terrifying. I find myself dreading the ringing of the phone.
Things are so extreme these days. I’m constantly being reminded of alarming dystopian fiction, not to mention the lessons of history. I’m reminded that events which seem like ancient history to us now were ‘modern times’ when they happened. What if our ‘modern times’ include a government led by narrow-minded holier-than-thou types who approve of spying on its citizenry, using what it learns to keep the populace in line? Is it possible for them to watch, listen, and record me twenty-four/seven? Which of the digital gadgets in my house are already gathering info about me with permissions they’ve gathered unbeknownst to me?
What if I start receiving messages that are duplicitous, or outright lies? Could propaganda be ringing me up? What does that mean? What will happen? How will society change? What will be the new norms? Will families like mine be allowed to exist legally? Will we need to flee our own country to remain free?
Sounds paranoid, I know. But, I’m an older white female, well-educated, who’s only missed three elections since her eighteenth birthday, all due to distance or illness. (Please, don’t nag me to vote absentee. I prefer walking into the polling place and wearing my I Voted sticker all day.) I’m also a lesbian with a wife, two kids, four grand-kids, and three great-grands. My personality is quixotic and usually upbeat. An artist, I easily find the beauty of the world all around me; as a teacher I can’t help pointing it out to anyone nearby. But it’s been a rough twenty-three months for people like me.
Everything I thought I knew about my country, my fellow Americans, my neighbors and friends, has been turned upside down. Harmful laws I thought gone forever are being reinstituted while helpful ones are dismantled as if they never existed. Ethics are being ridiculed, sacrificed on the alter of wealth. Women are being ridiculed, sacrificed on the alter of white male privilege, easily mansplained away. People aren’t listening to each other, compassion is rare, and judgement abounds.
“The times,” as Bob Dylan once noted, “they are a’changing…” and not for the better. Or, as Wednesday Addams said more succinctly, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”
I refer you to the novels:
- Nineteen-Eighty-Four by George Orwell
- Animal Farm by George Orwell
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
- The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Read, think, vote. We dare not go gently, like lambs led to slaughter.
EEK! There’s the phone…