Election years are tough for me. In addition to the decency-deprived, insulting ads taking over the television, suddenly people everywhere start opening their mouths and sharing their opinions about politics. Their feelings. Their theories.
In general, even if I agree with a person’s viewpoint, I would strongly prefer that person to keep it chained behind their teeth unless I explicitly ask for it. Why?
I don’t know, exactly. Maybe I just think it’s rude to talk about politics unless asked. Maybe it’s because very few people are informed enough for me to consider them credible. But I think mostly it’s because strong opinions make a lot of people sound nuts, and that can be upsetting.
I checked in with my Twitter feed yesterday while the GOP debates were going on and read wave after wave of irritation, outrage, and incredulity. It annoyed me so I closed Twitter and moved on with my evening. Sharing these opinions didn’t do anything but turn me away from reading more.
And that, I think, is the crux of the problem. In this day and age of self-published thoughts available at all hours of the day, people have gotten the horrible misapprehension that every single thought they have is worth publicizing.
This is a lie. No one cares that you are eating pizza, or that you think such-and-such a candidate is crazy. Unless you are a political pundit whose job it is to analyze and synthesize data in an effort to distill it into an expert opinion when asked, chances are excellent that no one will listen to you anyway.
This being said, it would be my strong preference for people to realize this and just hush already. If I could, I would ban political ads as well but even I’m not naive enough to think that’ll ever happen.
I guess I could unfollow and unfriend anyone on Facebook or Twitter who says stuff that annoys me, but I’d lose an awful lot of friends who, other than during election years, make me think, smile, and laugh.
The election is important. So important. But I think we really ought to focus more on being well-researched, informed voters than on sharing our opinions as loudly as we can. Unless, of course, it is your job to have opinions on this sort of stuff.
There are a lot of social customs and manners from earlier last century that are antiquated, but I think not discussing politics in public is one that is still apropos. I could be wrong, though.
What about you? Do you find the political opinions of your friends and family edifying? Do they actually influence your voting in any way?