Every Friday, Cienna Madrid offers solutions to life’s most vexing literary problems. Do you need a book recommendation to send your worst cousin on her birthday? Is it okay to read erotica on public transit? Cienna can help. Send your questions to email@example.com.
Some of my writer friends have gone off the deep end on Facebook, posting novel-length rants about the state of the country. It’s misplaced energy — they’re just dumping content into a void. I want to ask them to do something else with their time and energy, but a lot of them work multiple jobs already so volunteering is straight out and I know they don’t have any extra money to donate. Is there something that a writer can do to fight Trumpism that nobody else can? Preferably something that doesn’t involve Facebook?
Dan, Crown Hill
I understand your friends' need to vent. What was once a diverting sideshow in the freak tent at Barneby's Human Marvels, otherwise known as the Republican primary, has become another credentialed nightmare embodying America's worst impulses: racism, greed, serial narcissism.
The next four years will feel like a punishment for many people. It will be a punishment, and because life isn't fair, it will be shouldered primarily by those who are too demoralized, too poor, too busy feeding their families to fight back.
What would I recommend your writer friends do to combat the era of Trump? First, I would tell them to read this exhaustive Atlantic piece on the psychology of Donald Trump. The Andrew Jackson comparison gave me comfort that our country has weathered this brand of egomaniacal leadership before. Then I would ask them to stop ranting for a bit and take some time to do what writers do best – observe and record. Talk to people. When Trump and our Republican Congress implement new policies, find out how those policies affect their coworkers, family, friends, people in bars and on the bus. Write about that – even write about it on Facebook (sorry, I know that's not what you wanted to hear).
We need those records because this administration won't last anywhere close to forever; midterm elections are two short years away. Having those stories – not rants, but fact-driven anecdotes – will be important in proving the harm this Congress and president-elect have caused in our communities, and the people most vulnerable to harm often need help getting their stories out there.
That's my advice. My other advice is for you to host parties. The weather is taking a continual shit on our heads while the tannest man in the nation takes over the whitest house on the planet, and to top it all off many species of spider are in hibernation so my friend pool, at least, has been cut in half. Take care of your human friends: even the busy ones need to eat and everyone needs company at a time like this.