No doubt, we live in a bubble. A wealthy, privileged and growing bubble. The day after the election, I heard a variety of emotions, from fear to sadness and anger. It seems that much of the rest of America felt differently. This is a difficult topic to broach, because emotions are still high. It only makes sense to outline why many of us were so surprised, as well as the response to the outcome of the election.
Our immediate, S.F. society cares about certain social issues, which makes sense. We have a very large LGBT community, many women’s groups and a very real sense of people fighting to make the world a better place. As the election approached, most of San Francisco agreed who they were going to vote for. The state of California went blue, no question.
The surprising part is that this wish didn’t come true. We are so used to getting our own way, that we forgot that there is a big country out there that may not agree with us. It was an alarming wake-up call, with the inevitable Wednesday political hangover that hit many people hard.
It reminds me of the speech Peter Thiel gave at the Republican National Convention.
“Where I work in Silicon Valley, it’s hard to see where America has gone wrong,” he said. “My industry has made a lot of progress in computers and in software, and, of course, it’s made a lot of money. But Silicon Valley is a small place. Drive out to Sacramento, or even just across the bridge to Oakland, and you won’t see the same prosperity. That’s just how small it is.”
Growing up in Cleveland and being from a primarily conservative upbringing, my whole family attended the RNC on inauguration night. I remember my dad messaging me, somewhat oblivious to the lives we lead in S.F., asking if I knew who Peter Thiel was. I literally laughed out loud.
Looking back, Thiel’s analysis of San Francisco wasn’t that far off. We live in complete and utter affluence. But conversely, something he didn’t mention is that also have a large community of homeless people.
In the S.F. and California elections, we got to vote on issues that were closer to us — everything from homeless tents to soda taxes and marijuana. Within our bubble we voted on things that the rest of the nation was left out of. Do they care about the same things we do? Maybe some of it. Either way, we are different. We had a whole set of props that represented us, our world, our bubble.
In this bubble, most of San Francisco’s residents felt horrible come Wednesday. I had friends who cried all day, having to leave work. I had other friends who attended protests against the result of the election. It was a wild day to be an S.F. resident. Even online, everyone had something to say. In a way, that is really what social media is for, speaking your mind. From the posts I saw, there was an overwhelming majority that had something to say about it. Free speech is really important in these times and certainly gives us a chance to vent.
I had to step back myself and feel the energy around me. All of the people I talked to were scared. Throughout the election, it seemed like each side was terrified of each other, for whatever reason. Last week, I got the chance to watch Stephen Colbert talk about the election.
“So how did our politics get so poisonous?” he asked. “I think it’s because we overdosed, especially this year. We drank too much of the poison. You take a little bit of it, so you can hate the other side. And it tastes kind of good. And you like how it feels. And there is a gentle high to the condemnation, right? And you know you’re right, right? You know you’re right.”
From everything I read and experienced, this is the one quote that made the most sense to me. Many people I know were steeped in fear and anger because we as a San Francisco populace got caught up in being right. In this election, I believe it was really hard for the majority of us to be wrong.
But what positive can come from this? I for one, have not abandoned any of the ideas that I had long before the election. I am a woman who supports women, I am a giver who supports bringing up the children to become proactive members of society, and I love my country.
In times like these I remember living abroad in places very different to America. We have the most freedom of any place I know. It is what makes me proud to live here, regardless of what other countries think of us. Hopefully in the next four years we all get a better sense of what drives us to support what we believe in, no matter who is in the Oval Office.
With a background in journalism, Melissa Eisenberg has been working in the tech industry for eight years, currently leading the SF FashTech community.