Opinions, Assholes, and Being Polite

It is that time in America when the political pundits are relishing in a state of euphoria, while the rest of us spastically grab for the remote to find a television channel not blaring another political ad.  This is the time when the words, “I approve this message,” cause waves of nervous twitches. 

I recently posted what I thought was a relatively benign political cartoon on my Facebook page.  Holy Rolly Guacamole!  I was virtually slapped, spat on, tripped, kicked and shunned.  Once I got up and virtually dusted myself off, I noticed the “other guys” received the same treatment when they posted.  That got me thinking.  Why can’t we share our political opinions openly without ridicule, judgment, and harassment?  If I had posted, “I love chocolate almond milk,” I would have gone completely unnoticed on Facebook.  If I told my colleague at work I really preferred jersey sheets to 800 count Egyptian cotton, I would not have received a raised eyebrow, a frown, and a verbal stoning.  Why does one person’s opinion on politics cause such vile, uncivilized behavior from otherwise normal, well-behaved people who simply disagree?

I have a few suggestions to get through the rest of the election season:

1.  Do not post political opinions on internet media forums unless you are willing to be attacked, or unless you genuinely don’t give two rat hairs what people think of you or your opinion.  My opinions are not altered by what other people think, but I do get a bit sensitive at the attacks on my intelligence because of my opinion.  When it gets personal, I get annoyed.   It’s typically not a good idea to discuss polarizing topics in an environment where people get virtual testicles because they are comfy and safe behind a computer screen. 

2.  If hearing regurgitated taglines bothers you.  Avoid talking politics.  Most people will commit to memory a few taglines (almost always taken out of context) and repeat them in social situations.  Yes, it is hard to admit, but both parties are guilty of taking comments out of context. 

3.  LET IT BE.  Unless you think you have a REALLY good chance of changing someone’s opinion, just let it be.  When you ask people to consider a different political party than their own, you are in essence asking them to change religion, move, or alter the entire foundation of their being.  You are going to fail.  So smile, nod graciously, and if you can grit your teeth without notice, grit until you reach your gums. 

4.  Finally, as far as Facebook is concerned, you do not have to comment on every post.  Antagonism is pedestrian and juvenile.  If you disagree with a post, SCROLL past it.  Just as you wouldn’t comment on every single statement someone makes at a cocktail party, you are in no way obligated to do so on Facebook.  If you just can’t resist, log off.  If you absolutely MUST comment, make sure you are commenting on the post.  Do not comment on the person’s morals, ethics, intelligence, or lifestyle.  Make sure your comment is well researched, and not yet another tagline. 

I believe in a world where it is possible to discuss politics without going for the jugular.  And until that world comes into being, I will keep my opinions to people who can share differing opinions without offending, and if I can’t find those people, I will just keep my opinions to myself, unless I want to get a rise on a slow Facebook day.

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