Sunday, September 16, 2012

Election Season, Part I: A Piece Of Advice

As the calendar pages are torn off, time inching ever closer to Election Day, the amount of political writing will increase exponentially.  Like a funnel, time is forcing more and more crap in to less and less space until, come November 7th, one side can lick its wounds and the other can celebrate a bit.  No place is safe from people talking, shouting, demanding, propagandizing, or otherwise stumping for one side or another.  While the stupid question, "Does this election really matter?", gets bandied about by people who talk about politics without caring about it, there are millions of Americans who understand we have a vested interest in who wins and loses.  Every election matters.  Every vote counts.  Whether it's town council, county commissioner, state comptroller, House member, or President - what these people do in office effects every aspect of our lives in some manner.  We may not like that, but it's just reality.

As the tidal wave of politicking rises ever higher, the demands on Facebook not to say anything about politics are becoming just as deafening.  I respect the fact that not everyone concerns themselves with matters of public life.  I also respect that there are people for whom the welter of political stuff on Facebook can be overwhelming, especially if one gets bombarded, as I do, with many images and writings that span the spectrum of American politics.

If you are one of those people who post political things on Facebook and friends are asking, then demanding that you stop, then unfriending you because you refuse (it hasn't happened to me yet, but it might), I would urge you to just keep going.  If you are one of those people who just want Facebook to be about funny pictures and memes about women shopping and demonstrating to the world how awesome your children are (and you, as their parent and therefore by extension, share that awesomeness; let me just say I am VERY guilty of this particular habit, as I shout praise about my daughters all the time, knowing full well I want some of the credit for their greatness, even when I say otherwise), all I can say is the following:

Don't read them.  You see a status update about the election, or a link to an article about a candidate, or a meme or photo or something else about politics, and you just want to grab the person who posted it and scream, "Knock it off!", just close your eyes, take a couple breaths, and keep scrolling through your news feed.

A related note.  If any of the people who are doing this kind of thing are people you encounter on a regular basis, don't let it spill over and change how you relate to and with them.  That really cool guy who likes the Chicago Bears and posts links to microbreweries but also posts a ton of stuff in support of Pres. Obama is only doing what anyone in America does: expressing themselves freely and passionately about things that are important.  Likewise, the accomplished accountant and mother of four and wife whose husband is homebound due to an injury might go on a rant about liberals and their crazy ideas, and that's OK.  Politics is not personal, at least not "personal" in the sense that folks should get offended when others express opinions that differ from ours.  At the very least, we now have an even more rounded and full understanding of the people with whom we relate, and that is never a bad thing.

I guess what I'm saying is this: Lighten up a tad, folks.  It's an election year, and some folks care a great deal about these things.  No one believes the political stuff on Facebook is going to change anyone's mind; I certainly don't.  It's just sharing who we are, which is kind of what Facebook is supposed to be about.

Virtual Tin Cup

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