Richard Nixon resigned four years before I was born. As a result (despite being fascinated by the period), I wasn’t around to experience what personal relationships looked like between die-hard Presidential defenders and the the rest of America in the weeks and months after everything went down.
Was there a fair amount of gloating? A shared wave of relief for all? General silence for a while? I’d guess it was likely a little bit of everything.
What wasn’t there, however, was social media. A Nixon loyalist in 1974 had limited news options to choose from, and while they were far from flawless, it was at least reasonably difficult to avoid the reporting of basic objective facts. In addition, opinion sharing with other people took place primarily through real-world conversations, 1:1 phone calls and slow-moving options like physical letter writing.
In other words, not only did people share the same general base reality when it came to current events, but they were responding to things more slowly, and in much smaller groups.
Contrast that with 2019, where technology has not only allowed anyone the ability to share their thoughts globally in seconds, but also provided us with the ability to construct personalized lenses to the world by selecting who we do and don’t want visible in our information streams. Build the wall, indeed.
As we edge closer and closer to repeating history, I find myself legitimately wondering what our relationships will look like when the dust settles on the post-Trump era.
Time and distance are important to healing. It probably felt cathartic all around when someone finally cracked a Tricky Dick joke at Thanksgiving in ‘74, but how exactly would that work nowadays, when cousin Bobby continues to whip his Facebook followers into a frenzy with hourly updates on the pro-vaccination mafia’s illicit partnership with Hillary to give our Dear Leader windmill cancer?
Will people that rely entirely on like-minded friends for their information even believe (much less accept) what has happened?
Will those that have been shaking their heads and warning about Trump for years ever be able to feel the same way about the ones that followed him over the cliff? I hope there’s eventual forgiveness, but the endless trail of digital MAGA breadcrumbs will make it impossible to forget.
At least when it all starts hitting the fan this time, we can GO LIVE.