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20 February 2017

Baseball AND (Not OR) Politics

Last week, I started seeing friends post this on Facebook:
The idea is to occupy Facebook with baseball to break up all of the political posts. Whoever 'likes' this post will be given a baseball player and has to post a picture of the player along with this text.
It made me cringe.

Let me start by sympathizing with the intent. Contentious politics can be exhausting, especially in a 24-hour news cycle with an idiot, celebrity president, and along with apple pie, I love me some baseball! I feel you. The ability to turn one's gaze away from such a spectacle, however, is a privileged position. In fact, every friend I have who posted this was a white man. We are able to ignore such things only insomuch as they don't directly affect us. People of color and women, among other identities, don't have this luxury as they are far more likely to be directly and negatively affected by such politics.

Even more than this, though, I worry that it was more than just a diversion. Baseball is, after all, the national pastime, and all sports and amusement are intentional distractions from the pressing concerns of everyday life. It is hard to see how "occupy[ing]" a space that is regularly used for civic discourse serves any purpose other than the agenda of those who would benefit from the status quo. Contentious politics, while perhaps regrettable, is a necessary part of democracy. Vigilance is required, and though entertainment is likely necessary to sustain our mental and emotional wellbeing, it can often be a tool toward false consciousness.

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