— From the pages of FLL#38 • By Lisa Goich-Andreadis
In the words of Glenn Frey, “The heat is on.”
And if you haven’t yet fallen victim to one or two political battles on social media, most likely you’re not on social media. According to a Pew Research Center study on Social Networking Sites and Politics conducted during the 2012 election season, 18% of social networking site users have either blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone because of their politics or posting activities. One can only assume that this percentage is much higher four years later as more people jump on the social media bandwagon, and political issues seem more divisive than ever.
With elections come debates. And not just on TV with the candidates, but all over the internet where friends lob verbal snowballs from behind their keyboards, then duck, waiting for the replies to start rolling in.
Friends who you thought you knew suddenly become strangers when beliefs clash, and that person you shared cute cat videos with just yesterday is suddenly throwing red face emoticons your way when you post an article about your favorite candidate. You had no idea that little Johnny, who you have known since the fourth grade, is a gun fanatic with a penchant for the Second Amendment. And little Susie who sat behind you in history class with the conservative parents has forged her own path based on peace and love and healthcare reform.
It’s the blue or gold dress debate in action. I see Hillary. You see Trump. There’s no way you’re going to convince me that the dress is blue.
Tensions rise, fingers fly, words are volleyed and then suddenly you have your cursor on the “defriend” button, throwing away a sometimes decades-long friendship over an issue that could have been avoided completely had you just followed the simple steps which follow.
1. Don’t post political stories.
Okay, I know this isn’t a totally realistic request, but hear me out. If you don’t post your opinions, no one can refute them. If your parents were anything like mine, they lived by the motto, “Don’t discuss religion or politics among friends.” And they never did. And it worked for them.
2. If you must post political stories, be open to debate and criticism.
You know the saying, “You made your bed, now lie in it.” If you’re the type of person who can take arguments and turn them into introspective discussions between friends, then perhaps this will work for you. If you’re able to let jabs roll off your back and you’re deaf to SCREAMING CAPS, then you’re a better man/woman than most. Friendly debates can be an invigorating form of communication if both parties can agree from the get-go, “Hey, this is innocent banter.” Then no one will get hurt.
3. No name calling.
Remember, these are your friends. As much as you’d like to call someone a “twisted potato-headed numb skull jerk face,” it’s probably best to refrain. Once the election is over, you might want to go back to being friends with these people. It’s best to zip your lips and relegate the name calling to the inside of your head.
4. Selectively block posts.
If there’s somebody on your friend list who continuously posts things that get under your fingernails, you can selectively block posts from that person without defriending them. They’ll never know that you’re blocking their posts, and your friendship will remain intact. It’s a win-win.
5. Remember: I’m not going to change your mind, you’re not going to change mine.
There’s a someecards.com meme going around that says: “After reading my friend’s ranting political Facebook status, I’m going to change my vote,” said no one ever. If you can remember that your opinions are your opinions, and your friend’s opinions are your friend’s opinions, then you’ll get through this election period unscathed. There’s certainly nothing wrong with posting things to show support of your favorite candidate, but never lose sight of the fact that the only people who will most likely be in agreement with you are the people who are already on your side. You’re probably never going to be able to win over the haters. And that’s okay. Think of it this way, they’ll never be able to win you over either.
Now take your finger off the defriend button and let the countdown to November 8th begin!
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Lisa Goich-Andreadis is an author, talk radio host, former comedian and Detroit native living in Los Angeles. She manages the Jazz & Comedy Fields for The GRAMMY Awards. Married to Guns N’ Roses keyboardist, Teddy ‘Zig Zag’ Andreadis, the two share a home with four dogs in the San Fernando Valley area of L.A. Lisa is the author of “14 Days,” blogs regularly for the Huffington Post and MariaShriver.com, and can be heard as a special guest on “The Mitch Albom Show” on WJRAM in Detroit. For more information on Lisa and her projects, visit her website at www.lisagoich.com.