:::cue “Call to the Cows” serenade complete with birds chirping:::
Ahhhh election season…Such a joyous time of intellectual debate and respectful discourse.
:::record comes to screeching halt:::
Yeah right! If only that were true.
Here’s the deal. I may still be in my early 30s and can hardly remember an election cycle before the dawn of social media, but there’s one thing for sure I’ve learned in the early years of the internet…
So, here’s a short primer for anyone who has forgotten the basics in all of the political excitement, or if you simply have never been briefed in interpersonal communication skills.
No worries. It’ll just be a short re-cap.
5 Tips to Get Through Election Season (Without Losing ALL of Your Friends)
Tip #1: Show some respect.
It is easy to think that everyone tends to think alike and have the same opinions about things or people (especially if you tend to keep to people who think the same as you), but this could not be further from the truth.
The fact is that most people have a variety of thoughts, perspectives, opinions, and ideas about the world, how it works, and how it would function best, and every single idea comes from a living, breathing person who is worthy of respect and kindness.
Regardless of their political position, show some respect to others when you interact with them, and the likelihood is that they will respond in kind. Sow a seed and reap the harvest…
Tip #2: Be intentional about what you share and say.
Have you ever raised a 9 year old girl? I have…a couple so far. You know what I say fairly often?
I just do not really need to hear every single thought that goes through your head every moment of the day.”
The same is true about politics (and social media in general…but I digress). You do not need to share every single post, article, or idea that you like or with which you agree. It’s totally cool for you to have your perspectives, but just remember that everyone does not need to read your various thoughts and opinions on all matters of politics.
Keep a little mystery about yourself. There’s a time to speak and a time to be silent…
Tip #3: Make “I” statements instead of “You” statements.
One of the most annoying things I see with social media are the petty attacks made against someone who dares to differ.
You know what these tend to tell me? I’m back in third grade.
Let’s rise up to maturity and act like the adults that we are supposed to be in this world and practice adult-like conversations.
It is always wiser to say “I feel/I think/I believe…” than it is to say, “Well, you ______ (fill-in-the-blank with some kind of attacking gesture to attempt to stab the offending party into submission).”
You know what I have yet to see happen after such an attack? The so-called offender say,
Wow! I have never thought of it that way. Thank you for showing me the error of my ways and reminding me of what a putz I am! I am totally going to go and re-think my political stance.”
Always feel free to assert your own perspectives on a matter, but allow others the same opportunity for self-expression. Treat others the way you want to be treated…
Tip #4: Stop before you hit enter.
It is a little too easy anymore to simply press send, but wise man say “it is easier to stop words from exiting the mouth than to erase them once they have been spoken.”
I could tell you stories about the marital fights I’ve started from hitting send too soon in the heat of the moment and then spending the next X number of days trying to undo the damage I’d caused (realities of a military marriage…).
Politics are exactly the same.
Take a moment to really determine whether or not you are sure you want to step out on the ledge and say what you want to say in connection to your character, identity, and reputation.
It’s fine and dandy to rock the boat and challenge the status quo, BUT there’s a huge difference between the methods of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
Think long and hard about who YOU want to be.
Tip #5: Just scroll past it.
The most beautiful blessing about social media, though, is that unlike conversations that happen face-to-face, it is SO easy to simply remain uninvolved!
Can you imagine standing in a crowded room, chatting with your buddies, and then someone in the group brings up some topic with which you disagree and you cannot figure out how the heck to get yourself out of there before you blow a gasket?
Well, with social media, you never have to reveal the fact that you were present for the convo in the first place.
When you see a post or comment that is distasteful, offensive, or flat out annoying, be like Dory and JUST KEEP SCROLLING.
There is wisdom in simply ignoring these things and continuing on with your day.
It is one’s glory to overlook an offense.” ~ Proverbs 19:11
You TOO can survive…with friendships intact
And there you have it! Follow these simple tips during this election season (and pretty much another other time you face controversial topics) and you too will emerge unscathed!
In fact, if executed well, you might even get a few people to think differently and consider some of the ways that you see things too.