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 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