How to avoid political fray
It’s hard to believe that by the time I sit down to write my next column the next president of this great nation will be elected. And maybe by then my news feed will finally cease to be a series of overly deterministic political statements. Honestly, I’m not hopeful. But I’m also at my wits’ end. At this point I’m just trying to maintain my sanity and my friendships. With eight days to go, hopefully these little tips will keep you from falling totally over the edge.
First things first, download unpolitic.me, a Web application that hides political posts on Facebook and Twitter. Nowhere have political junkies been more obnoxious than on any and all forms of social networking. Not to rag on political activism, but let me say: I don’t want to hear what you have to say on Facebook and neither does anyone else, except maybe your mom. So spare us and just pick up the phone and call her. At this point anyone who is the least bit informed has made their decision, hopefully based on information put out by legitimate, neutral sources, and now they’re just seeking to confirm whichever bias they’ve chosen. Late-in-the-game, online rants will do one of two things: Get you lots of likes from people just like you, which defeats the purpose because you’ve accomplished nothing aside from boosting your Facebook ego; or they’ll tick off people who disagree with you. Do yourself a favor and avoid it altogether. Unpolitic.me takes all the political ramblings it can find on your Facebook and Twitter and magically transforms them into pictures of adorable cats. Possibly the best trade off ever?
My second tip is a no-brainer, but it’s the only real solution in the offline world. Just don’t talk about the election. It’s not worth it. It’s funny how the vast majority of the country suddenly deems themselves political experts around late October every four years. For many rational conversation becomes impossible. So if someone brings up the election, take the high road and just find a way out. Cartwheels, coughing fits, maniacal laughter and random outbursts of song are all acceptable diversions. But actually, think of all the times you’ve redirected conversations with your parents to avoid a sticky topic. The same rules apply here. Worst-case scenario, just nod impassively. Half my friends have no idea where I stand politically, and that’s fine with me. Most people don’t associate with others based on shared political views, so why should they matter now?
I am not at all against productive political discourse or activism. But in our highly polarized, incredibly mediated system there’s a fine line between activism and relentless ranting. My tips here should not be applied universally. Engage with others when you feel you can do so in a positive, constructive way. But don’t mess around with the idiots who think they know everything. They’re just blowing smoke, and they’re not worth your time or energy. Get the real facts, form your own opinions and stick to them. Most importantly, get out there and vote Nov. 6. It’s possibly the most important thing you’ll do all year. But leave your diatribes at the polls and move on.
Anne Marie’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.