Politics, The Personal, and Social Media
My Search for Authenticity in the midst of Influencers
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been building new venues for my writing — my education policy/education politics/disability writing is getting funneled into two new newsletters — The Educated Parent and The Great Leap. Honestly, I love building new websites, so it’s been a lot of fun.
I’m still deciding what I will do with the Apt. 11D sister sites. I could easily make Apt. 11D a strictly personal-lifestyle site with cooking tips and pictures of my house. I do admire many lifestyle social media empires with beautiful people doing beautiful things. It’s women’s work, being being recorded and memorialized - invisible no longer. Even though, I’m not as cute as I was 20 years ago, when I started blogging, and can’t do influencer-glam shots, I could use my kids as props for my photoshoots.
But I’m not sure the world really needs another recipe for creme brûlée. And I’m not quite sure how those influencer/creators can write about yoga or sour dough starter, when there are 1,500 people buried in the basement of the ruins of a theater in Mariupol, Ukraine. How can they not use their platforms with millions of follow to scream at the top of their lungs about mass graves and dead children?
One or two political leaders are trying to make politics into a beautiful trendy influencer thing, including Barack Obama and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I do appreciate their efforts to take public affairs away from the stodgie old people and popularize topics like transportation and housing. It’s also great that they show that politics can be a way of life. For me, I truly cannot separate politics from my personal life. I have strong opinions on everything from disability rights to public housing to international affairs. Politics IS my lifestyle. That’s why I would feel a little ill just writing about food and home decorating all the time, and am very interested in people who use social media to talk about politics.
However, the political influencers don’t always feel very authentic. Combine a politician with a social media empire, and you are looking at some mammoth narcissism. Obama’s multimillion dollar homes in Nantucket and Hawaii also feels a little distasteful, when he’s simultaneously talking about the poor and downtrodden. Other grifters have been trying to catch the profitable political lifestyle trend, but have thankfully been laughed out of town.
The only political influencer that I care about right now is Volodymyr Zelensky, proudly telling the west that he needs ammunition, not a ride. He’s the world’s unlikely hero and true model for bravery and sacrifice. Finally, an influencer who is worthy of our attention. And there are other like him, fighting littler, more invisible skirmishes against poverty and injustice. While I can’t join Zelensky on the streets of Kyiv or even write knowledgeably about politics in Russia, I can find other heroes, little ones in our own backyards, and write about them.
My mixed feelings about St. Patrick’s Day.
Love Michelle Yeoh
OPINION: How to better serve students with disabilities: One in five U.S. students has a learning or attention issue, and teachers aren’t well prepared to help them
PICTURE: Above: a photoshoot for my book shop on Etsy, Below: seen on my running trail