Is it my imagination or does everyone seem to be at cross purposes these days, lambasting one another for their tightly held ideals, political views, and opinions? Has social media made it appropriate—if not convenient—to start political debates that go nowhere fast?
Count me out.
Put simply: I read Facebook for the updates on what everyone had for dinner, cute kitten pictures, funny memes, and George Takei’s thoughts on life. If you’re going to spew about this candidate or another—or God forbid, any of their spouses—please keep the vitriol to yourself, because I am just not interested. Consider yourself not “unfriended but “hidden.”
I know for a fact that a few of my fellow Stiletto wearers feel the same way based on what they have posted on their own pages. And one, in particular, agrees with me on this point: you’re not going to change anyone’s mind, so just leave it alone.
I read a fascinating interview in O Magazine last night that really drove this point home for me. Donna Brazile, a woman who has worked on dozens of Democratic political campaigns and who helmed Al Gore’s presidential campaign, and Mary Matalin, spouse of Clinton friend James Carville but a staunch conservative, are best friends. Crazy, right? Well, turns out that they do discuss politics and other charged topics but they both know that their hearts are in the right place and that their opinions stem from individual lives lived with sincerity. They discuss topics but never try to change each other’s minds and if they are to be believed—and I have no reason not to believe them given the frankness of their answers—they do not go for each other’s jugular if they disagree. They have dinner together, they travel together, they drink together, they even dance together, yet fall on completely opposite sides of every imaginable political issue.
The one thing that struck me about the interview was that the women still had high standards when it came to good taste and manners. They felt that discussing politics without bringing respect and politeness to the conversation was the height of rudeness, something their mothers would not condone. Stirring the pot at a cocktail party, in their opinions (and mine), was just in bad taste. Finding a proper forum—and having a discussion with the proper decorum—was what made a good debate. Yelling, talking over someone, or spouting negativity in the name of supporting one’s ideals…not so much. And this applied equally to face-to-face discussions and those that take place virtually.
I am a fan of social media. It makes life for someone like me—an extrovert who works alone and at home—more enjoyable. I love seeing what everyone has to say about what they’ve got going on in their lives. What I don’t love is talk of politics of any ilk, particularly when it is filled with half-truths, disparaging comments and an assumption that if you’re on the other side of the debate, well, you must be just plain dumb. (And this applies to both left-leaners and right-leaners.) We all bring our own life experience to bear on our beliefs and that doesn’t make them right or wrong—just ours.
So, if I haven’t commented on Facebook your definition of socialism or redistribution, or given my opinion on how 5 trillion dollars can be cut from the federal budget, or discussed how I feel about birth control and who should pay for it, it just means that I’m staring at a cute photo of a kitten tucked into the warm cocoon that its mother has made for it. Or that you’ve been “hidden.” Don't worry: once the election is over, we'll all be friends again and you can unhide me, too.