Election season is upon us. Your newsfeed is likely beginning to look like a social media civil war.
The angel on your right shoulder wants to deactivate your account and bury your head in the sand to wait out the storm, while the devil on your left shoulder is pulling on your ear and whispering naughty, sarcastic comments that will feed the beast that is Instant Gratification — but in doing so, will most likely leave your friends list a house divided against itself, and will result in dreading notifications, every alert stimulating your defenses before you even look to see who commented on what.
Every four years, we have to go through this repetitive shit storm of extremes to pick the lesser of the evils, and in the meantime, get months of reminders that your crazy uncle actually believes the madness that he does, and though he loves you, he will drag you under the bus and through the mud until you hold up a white flag and beg for mercy, or death.
So, how can you survive this upcoming election with grace and sanity?
- Utilize the “unfollow” button.
Before losing your shit over a status you don’t agree with and comment bombing until you are blue in the face, simply unfollow that person. Accept the fact that you aren’t going to change everyone’s mind and it’s not your business to.
- If you are politically active and want to post statuses regarding the electoral process, do so with objectivity and kindness.
If you want people on the other side of the aisle to understand your opinion, don’t get emotional about it. Showing excessive emotion when formulating an argument makes you look irrational, and it invites criticism. Remember what you learned in high school English about the difference between an argumentative essay and a persuasive essay. In an argumentative essay, you present your thoughts with credible evidence. Persuasive essays make you look like a car salesman, so do yourself a favor and ax the phrases “I believe” and “I think.” Furthermore, argumentative pieces don’t get personal.
- If you do find yourself in a debate with the other party, remember this mantra: No low blows, stick to the facts, and be kind.
Even if you can’t see where that person is coming from, a good way to show empathy while also getting your point across is to use this phrase as a sentence starter: “I can see why you see things that way, but…” Doing so keeps the lines of communication direct, shows that you are actually listening to what they are saying, and presents them with the other side of the argument while also validating their side.
- Maintain a calm, objective tone.
People get caught up on the tone of your voice whether you are speaking or typing. If your audience can sense sarcasm, passive aggression, or anger, they are going to respond to your tone instead of your ideas.
- Remember this one truth: We all want what’s best for the country, even if we disagree with each other about what that is, and how to get there.
People are not innately malicious, some of them just struggle to articulate their thoughts. They may be defensive and they may resort to personal attacks in an attempt to get their point across — but that doesn’t mean that you have to as well.
Together, we can change the political discourse and rhetoric, basing our arguments on procedures and solutions rather than reaction and division. Let’s communicate ideas instead of emotions. Let’s raise the bar. Let’s evolve.