Yesterday, my world shifted.
Sure, the entire world did too, but within mere hours life as I knew it came crashing down around me. Today, I’m struggling to sift through the debris and piece any of it back together.
It might be a melodramatic reaction to the Presidential Election of a country I’ve never even visited, let alone belong to, but Wednesday the 9th of November 2016 was a shellshock. The announcement that Donald Trump – misogynistic reality TV star – would soon hold the most powerful position in the world felt like two hands reaching into my stomach, clutching onto my intestines and twisting, twisting, twisting.
That nausea is still lingering, and it probably will for a long time.
And that’s not just because every vile thing this businessman grandfather has said about women has now been validated by the American people. It really isn’t. It’s also because I have begun to doubt everything about my own life.
LISTEN: Mia Freedman and Mamamia staffers debrief about the US election. (Post continues…)
My view of the world. My politics. My Twitter feed. My Facebook circle. My internet search history. My upbringing. My openness. My values. My privilege. My naivety. My ignorance.
The same questions are playing on a loop in my head. How did I not see this coming? How was I so blind to what the majority of the American people want?
Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton convincingly, while every article and poll I read leading up to the election predicted the opposite. Despite immersing myself in election material for the better part of three months, I was utterly blindsided by the result.
And at 5pm last night, like a train slamming into a cement wall, it hit me: I shut myself off from the real world.
Even as someone who doesn’t neatly side with Clinton, I just couldn’t bear the thought of a wall-building, pussy-grabbing man assuming office.
So what did I do? I only paid attention to the information that cushioned my little cocoon. I only visited the news sites that vocalised my centre-left values. I only listened to podcasts that told me what I wanted to hear. Barring my boyfriend’s only pro-Trump friend, I surrounded myself with like-minded people who reinforced my feelings.
Because yesterday I was shown that what I think the world is, and what it actually is, are two entirely different things. And now that the vast distance between my perception and reality has been determined, I want to observe the world that baffles and terrifies me.
That's why this morning when I sat at my desk, I did something I've never once considered doing before - I visited the Fox News website.
I scrolled through the entire front page, then the politics and opinion section. I read a few of the articles including 'How this SOB knew that Donald Trump would win big' and, after about ten minutes, I retreated back to the world I know.
I didn't do it because I suddenly wish to align with far-right-wing views - quite the opposite - but because I so desperately want to understand why Donald Trump was voted President. I want to actually listen to the opinions of his supporters, and open my mind to theirs.
For my entire life, I've shut myself off from political conservatives. I've never ventured into their territory as it so deeply rattles my core. Worst of all, I've participated in the kind of condescending chatter that only drives a wedge further between us. And that's going to change.
I gain nothing by not listening to the views of people who disagree with my own.
Yesterday, my meticulously-crafted fantasy world crumbled. Now, I'm going to make it my mission that I no longer insulate my own naivety.