You might not know this about me, but I love politics. I love politics so much I’ve had friends brief their friends not to mention current events around me. “Just don’t mention Mitt Romney or you’ll live to regret it,” they say. They don’t think I hear them, but I do. (I hear you, SUSAN.) I love politics almost as much as I love big hair and Jesus and I love those things a lot. But, precious people, please hear me: I can’t take it anymore.
Left or right, I think we can agree that opening Facebook is like being punched in the face with a million opinions. I’ve always loved that social media can be a forum for thoughtful, meaningful political discourse, but its also given way to Ass-hat Syndrome and I simply cannot even. It got so terrible after the election, I had to unfollow people I adore (on both sides of the aisle) because they simply could not be kind or decent about their politics. I won’t claim to know exactly what the founding fathers had in mind for democracy, but I hardly think they anticipated it be carried out in 140 characters of shouty capitals.
The worst part about having to unfollow you? Having to unfollow you.
See, I didn’t want your name-calling and unkind memes, but I did want to see your post about your daughter’s first steps. I wanted to know about that promotion, that engagement, that brunch sandwich at that place I love. And, I wanted to know what you were thinking but I didn’t need it sandwiched in between melodrama and hyperbole. You know? Calling people “crybabies” or “deplorable” just makes them shut you out.
Worst of all, the discussions stopped. There were less and less opportunities for us to engage in productive conversation. When the conversation stops, we lose. We lose the insights and ideas of people with different perspectives and backgrounds. We lose the possibility of progress and the coming together of different mindsets. Those conversations are the cornerstone of our democracy, and those of us not interested in through-the-roof blood pressure are stopping the discussions for our sanity. I became afraid of being labeled “one of them” and just ranted and raved to my husband (who – unrelated, I’m sure – would like you all to know he just invested in ear plugs).
Don’t misunderstand me. This isn’t a call for people to be less passionate or even less furious. If anything good came out of 2016, its that the formerly complacent bystanders found a reason to become engaged. Friends who had otherwise shrugged off political discussions were diving in deep and, even when I disagreed, I was so hopeful for a future of less Kardashian and more foreign policy.
So, Dear-Friend-Who-Disagrees-With-My-Politics, don’t stop coming over. Don’t stop coming to my table and discussing with me, questioning me, reasoning with me. Make less assumptions, open your ears, and I will too. We may not love all the same things, but we all love wine.
I miss you on Facebook and in real life,
Your Friendly (I SWEAR), Neighborhood Republican
P.S. Red or white?
I knew I liked you.