Keeping Ourselves from Overdosing on Politics in our Daily Lives.

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It’s been a crazy year politically, but it’s been a crazy year for my view of politics also.

I went to small private college that was very political. Every class was political, every time someone raised their hands it was political. I was overdosing, so to deal with it I drew a firm line in the sand and stated that I didn’t care about politics. And I didn’t, I kept it up all four years. I only voted my freshman year for president and didn’t talk about politics or read about them. I blocked them out of my life everywhere but the classroom, and then rolled my eyes at how people couldn’t seem to talk about anything without them.

Then I graduated and I was no longer overdosing, because people don’t actually talk about politics all the time in the real world. People talk more about boyfriends, buying houses, sports, music. The topic would come up, I started caring a little more about the issues, because it was something you could debate, then close and move onto something else.┬áIt was nice. I felt at peace with it.

Then the 2016 election happened and ever since everyone has gone back to talking about politics 24/7 like I was in a classroom again. The issues come up more in real life, people debate more, and they get much angrier than before. And online? Online has become a toxic graveyard where people only seem to want to talk politics. The “talks” aren’t even that, they’re screaming matches, spattered with insults. Nobody can seem to agree to disagree and no one can seem to scroll or walk by something they dislike without commenting on it.

It’s dangerous surrounding yourself with that kind of content all the time, whether online or off. When people are hostile you get hostile. When faced with extremes our own opinions often become more extreme. We start to get to the point we can’t disconnect anything from politics.

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Who taught you that? Asking where your ideas came from.

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, and the good kind, not the kind where I get really caught up in my own anxieties. I’ve been listening to a lot of smart people, but they haven’t been telling me what to think, which I’ve grown accustom to through years of schooling. No, these people I’ve found through varies outlets on my laptop, where asking me questions. They wanted me to produce the answers for myself.

In a debate I heard someone ask “who taught you that?” to someone who was presenting one of their most dramatic viewpoints, something that they saw completely as fact.

Who taught me my dramatic viewpoints? The answer isn’t one person, it hardly ever is. We tend to take notes from hundreds of people and then write our essays. That’s how we should do it anyways, if your answer is easily a single person than you should probably go take some more notes, even if it’s just to compare and contrast.

But the question got me thinking about how sometimes when we learn things we don’t question it. We just take someone’s (or a group of people’s) ideas and adapt them, they simply become our own. This happens a lot when we are surrounded by one kind of idea. When our notes are one sided.

It’s also why we can see such dramatic phases in our lives when we look back. Who were you around when you went into that stage. Who taught you that way of life?

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The Dangers in Media Consumption:

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While I’ve been sick I’ve been spending a lot of time online. I’ve been checking out all corners of the internet. I’ve read deep into both sides of politics, I’ve read about science, and I’ve watched some teen YouTube stars. When you dive into each of these universes it’s a bit like falling down a rabbit hole. You get consumed by it for the few hours your online.

What we don’t think about that much is what it does to us when we log off. Certain ideas stick with us and we’re not blind to them, but what we tend to miss is the fact that our mental vocabulary changes to meet what we’ve been consuming. The ideas overcome us.

A good example of this was when I was reading extreme feminist Twitter accounts. A few days after I was in my car and this song came on and I thought “this song is really good and so emotional, how is it even written by a man?” It took me back because I couldn’t believe what I just thought. I had been reading about emotionless men and “toxic masculinity” that I accidentally started to internalize it. There is no reason for me to think of men this way. All the men I’ve been in relationships with have shown emotions to me and their masculinity never was toxic. I actually enjoy masculine traits in men. I knew men could be emotional, so why had I forgotten it? Continue reading

Agree to Disagree?

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Agreeing to disagree was something I was taught to do growing up because, as a lot of us do, I have a sibling. It’s something we teach little kids so they don’t fight and so they learn to respect others opinions. So why does it seem like most adults I meet no longer have this skill?

I noticed this a lot in college. People would talk about politics, or social issues, or what is best for mental health, and it would go from a causal conversation to people shouting out each other in about three minutes flat. Our own politicians can’t seem to debate without screaming at each other. It’s terrible. You’re not always right and neither is the person you are arguing with. But if you can’t calmly hear their side of the story then you will never be able to change their mind or get them to see things through your eyes. I hate to tell you, but telling someone they’re an idiot and wrong is never going to get them to agree with you. Maybe we should try and use the tactics we try and teach our three years olds:

Can you explain why you feel that way? I understand that but have you ever thought about…? I totally see where you’re coming from, I just think we have different ideas on how to solve it. Time for brunch?

Okay, maybe our three year olds don’t get brunch, but you can see what I mean. It’s a very civil approach and it makes sense. I get that sometimes it’s hard not to get super heated about things you’re passionate about, but if you’re trying to spread that passion you have to be able to talk about it in a convincing and polite way. If you get to heated about a topic it’s going to make you angry for the rest of the day and it’s going to make the person you’re shouting out hate your view even more. It’s not just unproductive, it’s counterproductive.

I feel like I could end the post on that, but I want to talk about how many friendships I’ve seen ruined over one or two different views. Friendship is a neat thing, you can be friends with someone and never talk about politics and still have a very healthy friendship. You can disagree on big topics, like religion, and still have a very healthy friendship. How? By agreeing to disagree. By being a grown up and understanding why they think that and why you disagree.

I’m not saying everyone is logical, and I’m not saying you can expect people to always be when you are, but I am saying that most people have reasons for their views, and most the time their reasons aren’t because they hate something. It’s because they have different views on how we should approach these topics. It’s because they don’t understand something or because we don’t understand it.

It’s really possible to step away from a intense debate with respect. It’s also possible to know when not to approach a debate at all. It’s called agreeing to disagree. If a toddler can do it then you can too!