Everyone's Got a Story
by Dreorg, Fri Jul 04, 2008 at 12:12:13 PM EDT
Everyone's got a story.
How he or she became a Democrat. What transpired in their lives to attract them to their political beliefs. Who inspired them to think beyond their microcosm and view the larger world.
Those stories are easy to forget when sniping or snarking on a website. Obviously, there are sock puppets, and right-leaning folks here to cause trouble, and bored people who want to see if they can get other folks' blood boiling. It can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff...
One thing the chaff won't do, though, for the most part, is tell their story.
I'm 36, almost 37. I am a gay man who grew up in the suburbs in a Fundamentalist Christian home. In the 1980s, that meant that the trinity of Reagan, Falwell, and Robertson was held only slightly below Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
We moved my sophomore year of high school, in the spring. I hadn't made many friends in my new town, so when I would come home from school, I would watch the Iran-Contra hearings on television, and one by one, all of these 'patriots' shredded themselves.
I was already questioning my faith as I tried to reconcile my religious upbringing with my sexual orientation. Now my political beliefs were being called into question, too.
My senior year in high school, one my best female friends had an illegal abortion. She wouldn't tell her parents she was pregnant, and the extra-parental support structure just wasn't there. She ended up having serious medical consequences as a result. The operation that fixed the damage from the hack job left her sterile at seventeen.
From there, a little leftie was born.
Obviously, that was half a lifetime ago (at this point). Many things happened in the interim. Life experiences have tested and tempered my belief structures over and over. I'm much more pragmatic now than I was at 18, and probably more willing to try to see problems from multiple angles (hell, that's what I do for a living). I've gone from being a college dropout who was about an hour away from being homeless at nineteen to a CPA with a master's degree working towards admission to a Ph.D program.
What's the point of all this?
Just that is extremely easy to snipe on the internet, where anonymity rules uber alles. True community building takes time and effort, and is almost impossible without developing some sort of sense of the whole person. There are plenty of snipers and trolls here right now, and it is far too easy to let them control the discourse in any online forum.
The best way to fight them off, in my experience, is tell your stories, find people you can connect with on top of the political (or whatever the purpose of the forum is) commonalities, and use that collective power to drive the narrative, and reinforce the sense of community.
We're all Democrats here, those of us here honestly. Or least, we're here to elect Democrats and/or further progressive causes.
What's your story?