Gird your loins, people.
While we try our best to be responsible and intelligent information gatherers, you and I both know some of our Facebook friends have more hunter than gatherer instinct. With the election rolling around — and two not-so-hot candidates to choose from — they scent blood in the news feed whenever a particular politician or political agenda is mentioned. And they go for the throat, regardless of how prepared they are for battle.
On an internet safari — sorry, couldn’t help the pun! — you can simply ignore the attacker. In the real world, evasion becomes a life- (and sanity-) saving skill. Some of us can only take so many dominance displays before we’re in need of a break — or a shot of Jack.
So for those of us trying to avoid all out warfare, I’ve got seven fail-proof ways to stay out of the crosshairs of your most voracious politically-inclined friends.
- Don’t poke the bear (or donkey or elephant or whatever). There’s a reason one of the first rules of etiquette is avoiding politics in conversation. But just because you follow the rules, doesn’t mean everyone does. So keep your gob shut when your loud-mouthed relative spouts his opinion about how every Muslim is in cahoots with ISIS or Sarah Palin is the perfect face of the feminist movement. Diffuse the situation. Change the subject. Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.
- Resist the urge to post anything political on social media. It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Sure it’s just your opinion, but maybe the first matador just enjoyed flamboyantly waving his red scarf around. How would he know the consequences? That bovine will charge either way, so don’t tempt it.
- Resist the urge to reply to others’ political posts on social media. On the flip side of No. 2, DON’T BE THE BULL. Change apps. Step away from the computer. Be the bigger person. The person you engage in conversation isn’t going to have some grand epiphany about the election and suddenly “see the light.” If anything, they will dig their heels in harder, no matter how right or wrong they are, causing that vein in your temple to throb. Save the aspirin. Don’t be the bull.
- Unfollow people who are getting on your last nerve. It is possible to simply unfollow people on Facebook without unfriending them, hiding all their cracked-up political posts from your feed. You then avoid all the heartbreak when they find out they’re not your friend anymore. *GASP!* Being on social media is much more pleasant when you don’t have to dodge political mines in search of cat videos.
- Know your facts. If you’ve done everything short of throwing yourself in a bunker for the next year and the subject still comes up demanding your response, know your stance. Know where you sit on certain candidates or issues and have examples to back up your opinion. You should not be spewing whatever rhetoric is being shoved down your throat from that one media source you get all your information from or whatever your neighbor said. Don’t have time to run to the Google? Admit your ignorance of the facts. They can’t argue with you when you calmly admit you just don’t know enough to continue the conversation.
- Attack it with humor. Politics not your thing? Use your sense of humor to diffuse the situation! Perhaps that means creating outlandish facts about a particular nominee or create your own nominee! “Isn’t Hillary’s policy on balloons at birthday parties just tyrannical?!” “I heard Kanye West was still on the ballot, trying to ‘Make America Yeezy Again!'” When the person realizes they can’t rile you up or get you to condone their opinions, they’ll lose interest.
- Walk away. OK, this person is the jack russell terrier of politics and just refuses to drop the subject, which shows a significant lack of tact on their part. Abort! Abort! Just get out of there as quick as possible using whatever excuse you’ve got in your arsenal. I would rather the person think I’m running late to an appointment with my doctor to treat an STI than stand there any longer.
You, my friend, are now as prepared as you can be, and hopefully my helpful tips will keep you sane in the coming months as our country attempts to get its shit together with this election.
Do you have any tips or tricks you use to avoid confrontation like a passive aggressive cheerleader? Let me know!