After a mind numbingly long 18 month election season, many of us hoped to return to a regular routine that involved less reading, discussing, and arguing about politics. Three days after the election, people are still debating the election, protesting, gloating, and generally extending what has already been an overly long process. Whether it was your candidate that won or lost, you might be more than a bit irritated with family members, friends, co-workers or facebook friends that voted for the other candidate. I have fielded a number of texts, messages, emails and calls from people that say something to the effect that “I don’t know if I can be friends with XXXX anymore.”
Very simply: you can and you should still be friends with that person (or people) in your life who voted for the other candidate. Here is a quick guide to help you get through this:
1) Spend less time on Facebook and other social media.
2) If there are people who voted for the other candidate that are gloating, arguing, complaining, protesting, attacking, or just posting a shit ton of political articles, you can unfollow them for a while. In a few weeks or months, you can refollow them as facebook returns to normal and they post annoying holiday photos of their children, write about how cold it is, share memes that aren’t funny, promote some event that no one wants to go to, and perhaps, just perhaps, share a heartwarming story or glorious photograph.
3) Take a few minutes and recognize why you are associated with the individual in question in the first place. Don’t cast them off just yet if they meet any one of the following criteria: if you have common blood; have broken bread together; suffered through war, incarceration, early recovery, freshmen year or a terrible boss together; one of you attended the funeral of the other’s loved one; you’ve gone on vacation together; there is a picture of the two of you smiling. If they are someone that you have no connection to other than you like to collect facebook friends, then by all means, purge them from your life.
4) Focus on those above mentioned commonalities rather than your profound irritation with their horrible political choices.Throwing that relationship away as you choose to surround yourself with people who only share your worldview is the move of a small and close minded individual. The ability to listen to those that you disagree with is a good one, and will help you deal in your professional and personal relationships (particularly in romance).
5) Before you blow off point #4 with “But they are so fucking stupid and annoying,” ask yourselves what other differences in people you have accepted. For example, I really disagree with the following lifestyle choices:
(a) eating vegetables
(b) those that think Eli Manning is even close to a Hall of Fame quarterback
(c) people who give me shit for smoking cigars
(d) people who thought Titanic was a good movie
(e) anyone who follows the Kardashians
(g) dogs – they are like babies that never get better
(i) not showering
(j) people who talk on their phone in public
(k) people who walk while looking at their phone
My curmudgeon list can get really long. I think I have a friend or a family member that believes or engages in every one of those ridiculous choices. And I still like them (and in a few cases, love them). My point is that almost all of us have accepted differing beliefs from people in our lives.
6) I have an uncle who has not talked to me for eight years because he disagrees with my politics. That was his choice, not mine. Of his four niblings (that term covers nieces and nephews), I was the one who sent him gifts most often and made a point to visit him when I was in California or he came to the East Coast. I accept the fact that he chose to end our relationship based on differing political beliefs, but I would not do that to someone else. Here is the tragedy of that relationship: other than politics, we got along really well. We like a lot of the same foods, books, movies and sports. He made me laugh and was really good to me when I was a teenager. The whole situation is sad.
(7) Over the next few weeks do some (or all) of the following:
(1) exercise more
(2) spend time with friends and laugh and don’t discuss politics
(3) go for hike in the woods
(4) plant bulbs for the spring
(5) binge watch whatever horrific shit of a tv show you like
(6) attend some kind of community event or service (religious, AA, bowling league, PTA fundraiser, etc…)
(7) Read that book you bought two years ago but never got around to reading
(8) organize your closet
(8) And if you really care about politics, then stop thinking that posting or liking articles on facebook or engaging in hashtag activism makes a difference. It doesn’t. It creates an echo chamber where you turn off those that disagree with you and are supported by those that already agree with you. Go get involved. Contact your local Republican, Democratic, Green, Socialist, Libertarian, Pirate, or Sith party and start doing real work. Pick an issue you really care about and become an expert in it. Advocate for it on the local or state level. Shit, run for office. All sides of the political map need good people.
* This does not apply to the netherworld of Twitter. Those are horrible people.