WTF? Why I “narrowed my circle.”

Last night I was confronted with another example of why I had so desperately needed to narrow my circle. Again, it’s political.

I took a little “hiatus” from Facebook after the general election and decided I really needed to narrow my circle. There were just too many people and too much noise. Facebook had become distracting, disappointing and divisive for me.

As you can see the journalist in me loves alliteration. That’s another reason I had to step back. Not because I love to bend words, but because I’ve spent the majority of my life around newsrooms. In every single one of those news operations, there was an expectation to report the news without imposing  personal opinions into a piece. This was taken seriously, right down to carefully constructing stories with thoughtfully chosen verbiage, so as not to be appearing to lean one way or another on an issue. Andrew Seaman, SPJ Ethics Committee chair recently cautioned in an article regarding the use of the term “alt-right,” that “Journalists must carefully choose their words, especially when sensitive topics are being discussed. When in doubt, journalists should always err on the side of specificity and context.” This article by Seaman is an excellent example of the expectation  (and reminder) that journalists need to be careful with the language they employ.  I truly believe the majority of our journalists in newspaper, local stations, and the major *traditional* networks still follow this dictum. The cable news networks, I concede, not so much. With the endless pundits and talking heads they employ to try and fill the 24 hour news cycle, cable news definitely blurs the lines of reporting and opinion. Regardless, journalists are my people. It’s still a big part of my identity. In the months leading up to November 8th, 2016,  was very difficult to constantly listen to people I once liked and respected, attack part of the essence of who I am. It felt personal, hearing so many “friends” harp on about the corrupt media. 1000 voices were too many. So, I killed my old Facebook, stepped away for a few weeks, and started fresh.

When I started my new account, I thought carefully about who I was going to let back into the minutiae of my life. My qualifier was, if all I had to offer was friendship (take away my photography, filmmaking, writing skills and/or my famous father), who would still be around?  I’ve found over the years, everyone in my circle might not be in my corner, and that’s been a tough life long lesson for me. The flip side has been God placing strangers in my life, who have showed me love and support can come from completely unexpected sources. I started to bring people back into my circle. Slowly and deliberately. Some of them people I’ve known my whole life, others I’ve only met briefly along the way. Many of them have wildly different political views than my own, but I have enough faith in our friendship to be myself with them, and I care enough about them to try and understand where their hearts are on topics when we (sometimes vehemently) disagree.

Last night I was confronted with another example of why I had so desperately needed to narrow my circle. Again, it’s political. Where I live in Florida, Bay County, is heavily Republican. Something which really didn’t bother me until this election because (mostly) our local government does what’s best for the community without a lot of partisanship.  That could be because the the Republican to Democrat electorate is 60/30 (with the other 10% hanging out elsewhere) and most of the people in office locally are Republican. Bay County just never struck me as dangerously nationalist, or civil liberty threatening conservative. The article below is similar to stories published all over the country by local newspapers. It’s the responses to this article which made me reel.

I understand wanting change. I understand wanting to reduce government. I understand our partisan identities get tied up in our personal identities. I understand that DJT campaign did a masterful job appealing to disenfranchised white male voters who felt the strength of their majority slipping away. What boggles my mind is that anyone could justify meddling in our electoral process by a foreign country no matter how hey voted in the general election. Moreover, that they would dismiss the conclusions of the FBI and the CIA so carelessly. Even Fox news called out DJT on his ridiculous comments regarding Russia’s interference. Do we have a bunch of unknown Russian assets (a la The American’s) here in Bay County? You’d think we do with the comments in that thread… Release those taxes Donald, prove to us you don’t have business ties to Russia.

So, to illustrate why I needed so desperately to narrow my circle… Bay County, the News Herald’s Facebook page, and Facebook trolls bring us to today’s WTF??? {sigh} Onward.

One thought on “WTF? Why I “narrowed my circle.”

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