Just my Liberty Speaks musings for the last week before everything changes.
The first printed version of this rule dates back to February 1840, from The Corsair, “The Letter Bag of the Great Western,”
Never discuss religion or politics with those who hold opinions opposite to yours; they are subjects that heat in handling, until they burn your fingers-
The “No Politics, No Religion” rule has been posted in bars and saloons for over a century and you can still find them today. It really is a sacred mantra that has kept bar brawls down so you can enjoy your beer in peace and no one will get there cackles up during the conversation.
That is until the rule is broken and not only will insults be thrown around, but you can add beer bottles, billiard balls, bar stools and yes, probably the individual that broke that rule in the first place.
Do you think that graphic is exaggerated? You shouldn’t. The subject is the most contentious topic people will ever talk about or fight about for that matter. There’s a reason why bars have the rule “No Politics, No Religion”. Some people just can not handle themselves in a rational manner when drinking booze and discussing an election.
Enter into the fray and fracas, our “cyber saloons” of the future…Twitter and Facebook.
Not only do the candidates, their surrogates, the media all have online accounts, but roughly 78 % of US citizens do as well. This election cycle should be called the 2016 Presidential Bar Fight with all the punches being thrown around. Getting into the brawl is just a click away for millions of us online, but there is no bartender or signage reminding us of rules.
Between the Never Trumps, Never Hillary’s, disenfranchised feel the Bern’s and what ever Johnson, McMullin and Stein supporters are called these days, our social media has become a twisted combination of Cheers, Family Feud and the Jerry Springer show on steroids. Never has there been such polarization publicly displayed for the world to see and never more personal.
Across Twitter and Facebook, warnings are being posted that “If you plan to support this person or if you don’t share my beliefs” go away now. In some cases, status updates just have the words “I lost friends today because of the election” or “I can’t support people who support that person.”
Friends, family members, acquaintance’s and allies have stepped onto the ledge of the political cyber roof to launch down a virtual “bleve” of blocks, mutes, un-friendings and un-follows. In some cases, as a final act of defiance, accounts are deactivated and even deleted. Everyone seems to be getting 86’d from the discussion.
Only on Social Media can you see this “GTFO off my timeline” phenomenon happening on a daily basis. Whether you have an opinion on the election or you don’t, everything seems to be fair game these days. Socially and psychologically, it’s gotten ugly and no one has been left unscathed. Anyone who says they haven’t experienced this, either hasn’t been online for over a year in a half or they have survived in an echo chamber.
It wasn’t always this way you know.
Years ago, before the age of digital connectivity, this type of ideological blood-sport was reserved for the campaigns and pundits. Seldom did we hear friendships and personal circles breaking apart because of beliefs and support for one candidate over another. If anything, we mused over the tolerance we shared for those around us if they weren’t quite in the fold.
It wasn’t uncommon to see mixed political marriages or a hodgepodge of political ideology among family members. More importantly, friendships survived the “nastiness” of past elections and were endearingly described as “strange bedfellows” or being an “odd couple”.
We embraced our sometimes diametrically opposed personalities and beliefs instead of demonizing each other. In most instances, we avoided political clashes all together by observing the “No Politics, No Religion” rule.
It worked. Our circles survived, stayed strong, and our ideologies and actions were not a catalyst to an abrupt finality of association.
So what’s changed? Politics hasn’t, nor has the election process. The only thing that has changed the landscape is Social Media. It has become our dinner table, coffee shop, water cooler and now our favorite bar.
These days we have friends and family who may not even be in the same state, and some we have never met in person. This wonderful technology allows us to stay connected in ways we never have been able to be before. However, the traditional smiles, handshakes and toasts have been reduced to pokes, RT’s, likes and shares. None of it is tangible.
It has also changed the way we disagree with each other. We no longer have our conscience front and center during discussions or arguments and this has given birth to an entire new dynamic on how we deal with differing opinions. This disconnection has effectively become cyber booze, and everyone seems to be taking swigs.
The internet has given us unbridled permission to insult people in ways we never would think about doing if we were actually in each others presence. The traditional rules that once governed etiquette, decorum and decency have stopped being subscribed to.
I must give credit to a Twitter friend, “The Internet of Feels” which describes the vitriol on social media and wraps up in a perfect bow the “cyber bar brawls” taking place everyday. His article is a must read by the way, but there is one part that’s pertinent.who addressed this very issue in his post
“On the internet we’re removed from the face to face interaction that triggers that thing inside us that usually says “Stop. That’s too much.” Add anonymity in to the mix and all bets are off. Accountability goes out the window. There’s no repercussions. There’s no cost to you.”
Sums up this election doesn’t it? However, it begs the question..what will the personal cost be after the votes are counted?
Think about these situations I have seen:
1. You called your closet friend a Nazi because of who they support, you’ve been called unpatriotic because you can’t back a candidate.
2. Words like idiot, racist, bigot, moron, Fascist, uneducated, stupid and usually preceded by the adjective “fucking” have been thrown into blog posts, tweets and status updates and lines of communication and connections have been cut off between each other.
3. Some online are acting like belligerent drunks in the middle of a bar fight who refuse to heed a bartenders warning.
What will be the repercussions of these actions on November 9th besides a Social Media hangover? What will we personally lose or destroy? Our country has survived in spite of who we have elected, but if we continue to attack each other out of spite, will it be our relationships that don’t survive?
It’s painfully obvious the bar rule of “No Politics, No Religion” will never be implemented on Social Media. The least we can do is go back to the understandings and tolerance we had before this amazing and wretched digital community was around and embrace the knowledge that every individual is entitled to an opinion.
Some may find this post woefully idealistic, others may think it deeply pessimistic. That’s OK and cool with me, because I am realistic. That’s why I subscribe to another sign I saw in a bar years ago that stated:
“Diplomacy is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way they look forward to the trip”
We can argue about who said it first after the election. Cheers to that.
Thank you to Grumpy Opinions for linking
Thank you to Doug Ross for linking
Thank you to Carolina Plott Hound for Linking
Thank you for the post, you helped me a lot.
You’re most welcome. No matter the outcome of today, it is tomorrow that will define us as individuals.
As such, there will be less guests and family members at the table this Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I have a cousin with whom I was very close that I have not seen or talked to her in seven years. During a visit, shortly after the 2008 presidential election, Sharon assumed until I informed her that I did not vote for Barack Obama. Her reaction was nasty leading me to remind her that she was in my home and her behavior was unacceptable. Have not seen this woman since meaning that she no longer asks me for a loan to cover the rent that she is unable to pay after a trip to Las Vegas, Atlantic City or wherever.
While I have been thinking these past few weeks that November 9th cannot get here soon enough, I am this morning bracing myself for November 9th, either way.
I have had similar experiences over the passed few years. When I listed the conversations in the post I have seen, the very first one was “first hand”. It was a friend who was apart of my “real life” circle. It was the first time I noticed the hate up close and personal.. and it is so far the only friend I have lost. I will not comment on whether or not I am fine with that, because I really don’t have an answer.
November 9th is going to be a very interesting day depending on the outcome of the 8th. I see in my mind many opinions laying lifeless on cold slabs and it was either a hospice situation that was planned for, or an unexpected accident that placed them there. One way or another, large portions of our country will be in a state of psychological mourning. It really is up to us on how we handle the “loss” so to speak.
You are not alone when saying you are bracing for November 9th. I think all of us are.
Very well said, LS. I’ve lost friends over this election, and I’m sure I’ll lose more. But what this election has really done is made me appreciate even more those friends who’ve weathered it respectfully with me. Not because they think identically to me, but because we discussed the topics without the insults and vitriol. I know very moral, high character, highly-educated, productive people on both sides of the Trump equation. It doesn’t pass the logic test to call one side or the other “stupid” and “racist” etc. Those descriptors don’t fit why equally smart people have chosen Trump or have not chosen him.
One thing I disagree on is that I believe we DO need to discuss politics with each other. If we did, and found a way to discuss it productively and diplomatically, then we’d be a lot closer to fixing our country’s issues. We ask our leaders to fix everything, but then we don’t have respectful dialogue at the grass level. It won’t work that way.
At the moment, as a fellow realist, I have low hopes we are going to weather this post-election without massive turmoil. As such, we need to accept the change will be painful, and work towards resolutions instead of continually hand-wringing about things that no longer matter, like “why Clinton” and “why Trump”.
Politics is part of our lives whether we like it or not and I feel it is worthy of discussion between friends, strangers, family etc. Lately it feels that when discussing this election a psychological flak Jacket should be worn at all times, and that truly is a cumbersome piece of mental clothing. The only thing that we should need in discussing candidates is a level head, tolerance and patience.
Politics does not care about our feelings…for me, that job rests with the ones who are discussing it. I have had conversations, and sometimes heated ones about this election, and I have had many conversations outside of blogging with individuals who tell me they ignore politics and or do not wish to learn more. I ask why and usually I get two answers:
1. I hate politicians
2. Politics doesn’t affect me.
My reply to both those statements is always the same: I agree with number one, but sooner or later a decision made in Washington DC affects everyone.
If we cant get passed our animosity then the nasty side of politics will always win. I truly hope this will not be the case.