Plugged in and wired up
I find bliss when I’m plugged in and wired up.
Plugged in and wired up is when I’m at the CoHo: Diplo and Friends blaring, a large, black iced coffee coursing through my veins, pounding away at my keyboard, writing thousands of words and finishing projects — creating.
Plugged in and wired up is when I’m with the people that love me, Major Lazer blaring, vodka-coke-zero-redbull in hand, dancing, mingling, meeting hazily.
Writing (one of the most natural and pure movements in the world to me) and organizing projects like fraternity philanthropies, Spring Formal or large events, are critical joys in my life. Similarly, I find bliss in partying with positive people in positive environments, whether in my fraternity house or at a concert or at an apartment party a hundred miles away in the big city. Those are two things that I need in my life to be happy, to wake up on a dreary and busy Tuesday morning and smile because I know I can look forward to these things on Thursday.
Right now, I’m holding on to these joys as my coping mechanism, because life is about to get a lot less joyful with President-elect Donald Trump. I’m largely unscathed as a straight, white, upper-middle-class male from the Bay Area (although there’s something to be said about the intense anti-Semitism that accompanied his campaign), and I recognize that I’m able to think this way because it doesn’t directly impact me as much as my friends and family.
Someone I admire said on Facebook that Trumpism’s victory means that “our right to quit is revoked,” not our right to scream and cry and shout and eat comfort food and call our parents and hug our partners extra tight. Our right to quit. Not our right to find the healthy emotional release we need in a time like this. Our right to leave the country, our right to disengage from politics, our right to give up our energy because of this loss.
We stared evil in the eye and evil didn’t flinch. We jousted with xenophobia, misogyny and utter disrespect for people and the planet, and the evil knocked us off our horses. We got our asses kicked. Yes, popular vote; yes, razor-thin margin; yes, third parties; yes, Bernie Sanders; yes, swing states. But we’re not going to go back and win the 2016 Presidential election by scapegoating. Churning out thoughtful, insightful analysis by identifying mistakes and trends for the future is one thing, but this is the (meaner, crueler, regressive) world we live in now. And just as the world changed Tuesday night, the world will keep changing.
Our generation is at a crossroads. Our alarm went off, and it yelled to us that it’s going to take conscious, intentional effort from as many people as possible in order to shape the world to our values. Plenty of optimists posted Martin Luther King Jr’s quote that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” It doesn’t bend because of some cosmic force that shapes history. It bends because we f*cking bend it.
Plugged in and wired up is my favorite way to bend.
Two days after the election, my boss, opinion editor Eli Flesch, sent out an email to the columnists and humorists. Eli, a skilled and intelligent human who can do everything from writing, to research, to interviews, who with his resume can work anywhere he goddamn pleases, wrote that he’s “doubling down on journalism, and I hope this election shows you that it really is one of the best, if often heartrending and imperfect, professions you can hope to make a stable career.” Journalism is a burning building, and Eli chooses to run into the flames to put them out.
One of my best friends in the world, Allison, is someone I often view as a mirror image of me, but other times I’m too astounded by her resolve and competence to even relate to her. She worked on both the Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh campaign in Indiana while taking a full course load and staying active in her sorority, reminding me and everyone else in her life of Hillary Clinton (Secretary Clinton, if you somehow read this, trust me: you’re her spirit animal), texted me the day after the election that she’s decided her life path: politics.
Both Allison and Eli have the world at their fingertips. Their careers are incredibly, incredibly bright because they’ve earned it. And both are so moved by this that they’ll throw themselves at jobs with low salaries, low job security, poor work-life balance and low general respect. They’re turning down better-paying jobs in more fun cities because both journalism and politics are high in one thing and one thing only — meaning.
Plugged in and wired up is where I find meaning.
It might be just Allison and Eli out there. There might be thousands of them. There might be millions of young, smart and hard-working people who are turning up the talent level for the campaigns, nonprofits and entities that can help us fix this thing. And maybe specifically Allison and Eli decide to do something else with their lives — that’s perfectly okay too. But if this isn’t just my two incredible friends, and it’s actually a wave, and if these professions become flooded with America’s best…
The first person I wanted to talk to as I saw the battleground states flip red was my little sister. She’s been paying rapt attention to how her country is treating the tough, passionate, intelligent woman she aspires to be and the ignorant and aggressive bigot she’s never met thanks to her blessed upbringing. When I was in middle school, an African American man was elected president on the platform of hope and change. I really think my generation is going to be totally different from hers because of that. She’s not going to grow up with any shred of hope or change. She’s going to become a woman knowing that nothing is given, knowing that without finding her version of plugged in and wired up, and without her friends doing the same, bad can and will beat good every time.
The day after the election, her teacher asked the students to write and talk about their feelings. My sister, a shy and sweet girl who’s still finding her confidence and is just getting used to her own voice, called Donald Trump an “ancient, ridiculous asshole.” I’ll put aside that I’ve never heard her swear in my life, which makes zero sense because my brother and I swear like a Tarantino film.
If this isn’t just my sister, and it’s actually a wave, and girls across the country are learning that “bossy” is a BS putdown that insecure men use when they feel threatened, listening to Clinton when she tells them to “never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams” and take it to heart.
Plugged in and wired up is when I find inspiration.
40 million people in the right states, because of their socioeconomic suffering, because of their hopelessness and desperation and lack of access to things like diversity that we on the coastal cities take for granted, voted for Trump. There are over 200 million eligible voters in the United States. We didn’t just lose the privilege to quit — we lost the privilege to be passive. It doesn’t have to mean reorienting our lives and careers. I still plan to enter the tech industry, but I lost the ability to not sign petitions, to not be “annoying” or “taboo” on social media and I sure as hell lost my ability to not call out injustice when I see it.
As a straight, white, upper-middle-class male, I’ve lost my right to not confront people similar to me about misogyny, racism and xenophobia. Every man in my position is one of two things: an ally, an upstander and a platform; or complicit in the marginalization of women, Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans, poor people and queer folk. I’m not advocating for us to step in the “social justice warrior” space and become the activists that plenty of us find annoying. I’m saying that when our buddies try to play off Trump’s “grab her by the pussy” comments as a joke when we play FIFA, when our uncles raise the issue at the dinner table on Thanksgiving, when our homies support the problematic elements of Trumpism (yes, there are legitimate reasons to support him as a candidate, but they exist in a vacuum and not in the real world), we, as them, have the single most powerful platform to change their minds: having been in their shoes.
Plugged in and wired up is where I find myself.
We’re staring into an abyss. We’re staring at frustration, at long hours and little pay and delayed rewards. We’re staring at years of pain. I think it’s more important than ever that we scream our faces off.
It’s healthy, mentally and emotionally, to reconnect to what makes us truly happy. It’s so critical that we still hit the gym, that we still eat healthy and take care of our bodies and practice self-love. That we still play our favorite instruments and listen to our favorite music and play our favorite sports. That we still smoke weed and get drunk and have sex and watch Netflix and fall in love and hang out with friends.
If we lose our drive to be happy, Trumpism really wins. We won’t be able to be at our best on Monday morning, fighting for what we deeply believe is right, if we sacrifice our weekends to misery and despair. Yes, the world needs us to party, or do whatever it is that puts smiles on our faces and makes us feel like ourselves. I’m going to drink more caffeine and listen to more EDM than ever, because I’m not going to accept this as anything more than a lost battle. Hillary Clinton kept saying that America is big-hearted, that it’s always been great. Let’s prove her right.
Plugged in and wired up is how we’ll defeat Trumpism.
Written by: Yinon Raviv — firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.