A very long time ago Emily Post, a self appointed arbiter of etiquette said never to discuss politics or religion over dinner. Sounds great to me. Sad, it’s a rare thing to have dinner with people anymore. Even before Covid, people stopped reaching out to each other. Why? You guessed — the internet! Why call a friend when the internet offers a platform for free-speech via so many mediums: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and of course blogs. Like Andy Warhol once said, 15 minutes of fame baby … 15 minutes of fame!
Of course these platforms have a purpose. Many of us using them are selling books, music, art, and marketing services. With these tools, an old writer like myself covers more ground then back in the day when I used to submit a query in a manila envelope. So, I’m all for social media.
The problem is, when people abuse social media. I mean, freedom of speech and all that, of course. If you have your own page, feel free to spew all the political hate you want; your views are none of my concern. I don’t have to agree with you. I don’t have to look at your platform. Simple as that.
However, there’s a bridge on social media people shamelessly cross that takes them from “Freedom of Speech” to “Freedom to Be a Freakin’ Asshole” in one quick step. That’s when someone goes to a platform of a different mindset than their own to purge their emotional vomit. In other words, a troll.
That’s a sad lack of self-control. Calling people “stupid” and telling them to “wake up” just because they are not of the same mindset you are.
In my book, “Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” I speak about the odd friendship of Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The famously conservative Scalia opposed the court’s recognition of gay and lesbian rights. Meanwhile, the liberal-leaning Ginsburg was the first justice to preside over a same-sex marriage. Their views couldn’t have been more different. Despite their oppossing philosophies, Scalia and Ginsburg established a highly bonded friendship. They shared a love of the law and opera, made each other laugh, and even traveled to India together.
Amazing, right? Not really. Little me also has friends who believe different than I do. We all get along GREAT! Why? BECAUSE WE DON’T FIGHT OVER POLITICS!
Well, there was that one friend…
She couldn’t keep her political agenda out of my face. I listened to her views and took her seriously, but she never gave me an inch. She continued to push her views in my face.
I finally did the right thing. I let the friendship go. It’s just not a friendship if one person is doing all the bitching (her) and the other one is doing all the listening (me). And I got exhausted telling her, “Please do not put your political agendas in the comment section of my business pages.”
I’m sad, but I feel a big weight has been lifted. Now perhaps I can inspire just one person to not make the same mistake she did. I offer the following tips on How Not To Lose Friends Over Politics. It actually works with me and my other friends who have opposing views.
Cheers to differences and getting along!
- DON’T TALK ABOUT POLITICS. That’s the BEST way to handle it. To be friends, you don’t have to have the same political views. I said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times. There are tons of other things great friends can bond over: music, food, trips, books, pets, travel, photography, wine-making, creativity, work, children, dreams, to name a few.
- IF YOU MUST ‘GO THERE’ DISCUSS DON’T DEBATE. Believe it or not, I’ve swayed a few people to my side of thinking — just a little bit — by respectful discussions over a glass of wine. Did I feel like I won? No, even better, I felt respected. It made me love and appreciate these friends more than I did before. Perhaps you can do the same. It’s not hard taking a deep breath and listening. If the conversation gets too heated you can always change the subject to something else. It’s that simple.
- ABSOLUTELY NO NAME CALLING! Don’t call someone “stupid” or demand they “wake up” because they think different than you. Name calling is tacky. It doesn’t make you look superior. It makes you look like an asshole. What are you 3-years-old? Talk to all people with love and respect, because if you don’t you may lose a good person in your life.
Did you ever lose a friend over politics? Share your views below.
Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: email@example.com.
She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements (via ZOOM during covid). She is now coaching aspiring writers via ZOOM.
Maryanne is the author of the following books:
“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary
“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You
Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats