Battles over politics have been breaking out on Facebook in greater numbers since the election began. As friends and family jump into the fight to post their opinions someone inevitably makes the observation that they wish people could have a political discussion without it turning ugly. With the country so polarized it seems everyone is having a difficult time sharing (and listening) to opposing ideas in a way that stays polite and friendly. I understand it because separating the beliefs from the person is a skill I’ve always lacked. This goes far beyond politics too. My boyfriend plays in a gay softball league and often there are deep rivalries on the field that he is able to let go of once the game is over. The same guy he was cursing at during the game is the friendly face he’s saying hello to at the bar afterward. I watch the whole thing in amazement because I’m the total opposite. If I hate a guy during the game I’m going to hate him afterward at the bar. I’m also going to hate him tomorrow on Facebook and next week at a pool party. To me he doesn’t get a free ‘I’m an asshole’ pass because his actions were done during a game. If he’s an asshole athlete then I tend to believe he’s an asshole person. In fact I suspect the athlete side of him is the truer version of his personality and he’s just learned how to mask it in polite interactions. The same goes for political beliefs. If you disagree with me on an issue that I have strong opinions on I can’t get past it and it’s a total deal breaker. I’m even worse when it comes to Trump, I instantly question a supporter’s intelligence and automatically assume at least moderate levels of racism. A person’s beliefs, just like their actions, are a core part of who they are and I have trouble giving that a pass. Backing a presidential nominee who was the leader of the birther movement is a total deal breaker that goes on their permanent record. No amount of hotness or brilliance can overcome that. With all this said I should be clear that I’m not proud of this reaction and I wish I had some of Russ’ good sportsmanship ability. I’ve tried to soften my approach but I simply don’t understand how a reasonable human can defend the Republicans right now.
Luckily I also don’t feel this way about every subject. For example I’m not going to turn on you when I hear your opinions on financial regulations because I don’t have a strong opinion on the matter. I realize my perspective is harsh and therefore I ignore the need to chime in with a long diatribe on Facebook. Yes I believe anyone who votes Republican in this election is automatically signing up to be the villains in a future Oscar nominated movie but no I do not need to constantly shove that in their face. I’ve realized if I want to really change someone’s mind I should trying having a real talk with them in person. Ask questions and really listen to them rather than just monologuing about social injustice. So the next time you feel the need to enlighten someone with a Facebook comment remember that no one has ever said, “Wow that long Facebook rant really changed my perspective on the election.”