So, like it or not, we're stuck with it. And, furthermore, like it or not, some of us are much more involved and interested in politics than others. Now, we it comes to family dinner, it's likely to be less of a concern, because uncomfortable silences or credible threats of physical violence, tend to blunt the worst of it. And, in theory, you're less likely to make a complete ass of yourself in front of loved ones. In theory.
But then there's Facebook. Yes, there's other social media, but you're more likely to have your mother and fifth cousin twice removed on Facebook than on Tumblr or Flickr or whatever other intentionally misspelled mish-mash mess of a social media platform you use. Unfortunately, Presidential Campaign Season doesn't play well with Facebook, and it's just waiting to bubble over with invective and hostility.
So, with this in mind, I've come up with a sort of manifesto or creed for surviving Presidential Campaign Season while on Facebook. Or rather, to make things easier on those on the other side of the political divide and those who don't care (either through apathy or, you know, not living in America).
- Politics Isn't Everything: Just because I really care about some political thing, doesn't mean that everyone else does, and I shall keep that in mind. I shall also keep in mind that, just because I disagree with someone on some issue, no matter how important it is to me, it doesn't mean that they are evil, stupid, horrible, or otherwise less of a person.
- Friendship is More Important Than Tribalism: Connected to 1 above, I will remember that I can have political disagreements with friends and family, but I will still be friends and family with them after the election is long forgotten. The Tribe may be important, and it's certainly insistent about itself, but it is secondary, especially to family.
- I Will Not Lower The Discussion: I might not be able to elevate things, but I'm not going to wallow in the gutter. Mainly, this means I will not use "cute" insults such as DIMocrats, Obummer, ReTHUGlicans, The New York Slimes, or anything of that nature. That kind of crap wasn't clever when I was 12, and it sure as Hell ain't clever now.
- Memes Are Not Intelligent Discourse: You've all seen them: a picture with words slapped on it. Your wall will be full of them as the season really gets going. However, you can't distill a position or historical event into a dozen words. They're the lazy man's attack ad, and I'm not going to lower myself to posting them. Ever. Nor will I "share" from some idiot Facebook group that does nothing but post them.
- Some People Like Memes: The sad twin to number 4 above. Thus, keeping this in mind, I will strive to only block the source of the memes and not the person posting them. However, if you only log on to Facebook every four years to share a dozen memes a day for six months, maybe you should reassess your use of Facebook.
- Articles, In And Of Themselves, Are Not Intelligent Discourse: Also connected to number 4 above, simply linking to an article in a newspaper or from a blog doesn't necessarily rise much above the level of meme. In keeping with that, I shall strive to add my own thoughts and analysis to whatever I link to. Supposedly, the goal of all this linking is to persuade the undecided. Simply providing a flood of links is just annoying.
- Primary Sources Are Important: I will remember that all media everywhere has bias. It may be benign bias, or it may be bias that mirrors my own, but it is always there. Whenever possible, I will read primary sources. And as a corollary, I will avoid exceedingly biased or unserious "sources". This includes the entire Gawker empire.
- Palate Cleansers Are Important: I will keep in mind that not everyone likes politics as much as I do (or is as addicted, since "like" seems a stretch). Furthermore, I know that many friends and family don't have the same political leanings that I do. With that in mind, I shall avoid making my wall a non-stop political screed. Ratios can be difficult, but I will strive for at least 25% of my posts to being non-political, even if it's just another picture of my cat(s) being cute.
- I'm Far Too Old To Be Passive-Aggressive: This one should be self-evident. But I'm going to include satire, irony, and sarcasm in this. Those things (except passive-aggressiveness) are all well and good, in real life, but it's just too hard to tell online. I'll leave satire to the pros (like Daily Mash or the Onion), and largely leave the others to other people; I don't need the hassle.
- I Will Not Be Outraged: No matter how awful something is, I will not give in to outrage. Outrage solves nothing, and just drives people away. Nobody cares if I'm offended by something, so there's no point in screaming like a damn fool about it. Again, like point 3, I'm trying to elevate things. Being outraged and offended are lizard-brain reactions; they don't elevate.
- Politicians Are Idiots, Just Like the Rest of Us: I will remember that politicians are not super heroes, and, no matter how much I might support one, I will never, ever, allow myself to cross the line into hero worship. I will not state that I "love" a politician or some sound-bite they've given. They're just people, and they are not to be idolized.
- It's Not The End of the World: Unless we get a visit from SMOD (Sweet Meteor O' Death), it won't really matter in the long run. Politicians like to puff themselves up, but that doesn't mean I need to buy into it. No matter how fierce the debate, I will remember that, in the long run, I'm arguing about minor stuff. Especially since the president is the least important election in the nation, and I really should be focusing much more on my state and city elections, since they're the ones that will really impact my life.
This isn't an exhaustive list, and I'm sure I will fall short on some points, and possibly all of them, but I think it's a reasonable standard to strive for; to hold myself to. If nothing else, spending time writing this out has helped firm these ideals in my mind.