Elections are coming up. As if we could forget. I myself have my own personal beliefs and annoyances about campaign ads pop up on sites that I wouldn’t think that they would be on. The truth is though that no matter what side you are on, our world has never been more polarized. Even though we are reminded of it all the time it doesn’t seem like some of us can hold onto that enough to stop ourselves from ruining our relationships over it. There hardly seems to be a gray area anymore, much less an area for other peoples opinions.
The hard truth is that it’s only going to get nastier and I don’t just mean in between the canidates. It’s utterly amazing how quickly people that have known each other for their entire lives, people who are family and anything in between will turn on each other when it comes to politics. We make it such a huge part of our identity and politize our beliefs in a way that can split us in half, make us say horrible things and just generally ruin our own lives when really we are still just voting in between two, old, white rich men. I don’t know about you but that is not what I want to be risking my relationships over. Ideals are different from political parties which is what we really must remember during this upcoming time.
Understanding facts vs opinion is the first step in surviving this season. A fact is something that can repeatidly be proven over and over again by a third party. Fox is not a third party. MSNBC is not a third party. Facts do not belong to you. Facts are numbers and stats that will not change. They have sources that are respected as third parties. If someone argues back against a fact with their beliefs or opinions, know that you can not change their mind and it’s time to let the argument go.
Knowing when enough is enough is a huge part of this. Consumption and knowing when to shut off the news and other outlets is going to be a huge part of keeping our anxiety levels and the way that we treat each other civil. I love news. I listen to podcasts all the time and I am a huge beleiver that you should know whats going on. But that doesn’t mean that you need to drive yourself crazy. There is a difference in between being well informed and just plain pissed off by what you are watching. Not to mention that once we start watching people talking to each other in the way that we have become accustion to watching these polizered sides speak, we forget that that is not the way that we want to treat each other.
It is amazing how many people are willing to attack people who have been in their lives forever, family, friends, children…everyone in your life is more impotant than the politics (Most of the time of two rich, white men). Many of my family and I disagree on politics, at least in the generation above me. The question that I always ask myself though is of this arguement is worth losing them over? That puts things in perspective for me. These are people I know that I can always go to. These are people that have been there for me through hardships in life. These are people that gave me my first taste of wine and took me out to my first broadway show. Nothing is worth losing them over.
Likewise I know that they want the best. Understanding that people come from a place of good for the most part is another thing to understand. For the most part, people do not set out to do the wrong thing. Even if you think that it might be wrong or irresponsible. That is not to say that they are right but coming from a place of educating and talking people through your beliefs is a lot more doable when you understand that they are coming from a good place.
We are all passionate about the things that we believe. But if screaming and yelling come into the picture, then chances are that you are not going to be changing anyones mind. Thing about how you would take things if someone was screaming or yelling that you were wrong at you. Or even if they ARE screaming and yelling at you. This has happened to me on several occasions and can include things like eye rolling, the you’re too young comments, the consideration…all of those things are just as bad. If these come into the picture, the conversation is done. No one is going to listen to anyone rationally and its in everyones interest if you just step back.
No matter what, these next few months are going to be brutal. Keeping a level head will be hard. The media will be fanning flames. You will be tempted. You will be angry. But hopefully these tips will provide a little bit of comfort. What are some of the tips you would give on living in a polarized world?