Political Sabbatical

Political Sabbatical

Everyone Poops by ThreadlessFor the next three months, I’m done with politics.

Specifically, I’m done with everyone else’s politics. I imagine that most of you feel the same.

I’ll still have my opinions, philosophies, favorite publications, and admired politicans. I’ll continue to educate myself before the upcoming general election. I already know who I’ll vote for, but I’ll be interested in learning all the reasons I shouldn’t.

But when it comes to political “debate”, with friends and family, in the real world or online, I desperately need a break. That’s because “debate” seems dead, especially all of the name-calling that littered my Facebook Wall today. The roles I play in life — father, worker, athlete, husband, artist, consultant — consume all of my available oxygen, so something has to fall off my plate.

It’s an easy decision to make. As I’ve grown older, I’ve become calcified in my beliefs. I’m much the same person politically as I was 20 years ago when I first voted (for Ross Perot, BTW). I would like to think I expose myself to a variety of opinions. An example of proof is in who I follow on Twitter, the land where you can pick your friends but you cannot pick their noses. And I’m willing to put myself in other’s shoes, as it challenges my beliefs to the point of abandonment or ratification. But I find it hard to believe I’ll ever change who I am in the core, and that guides my politics.

But those around me are just as set in their ways as myself. Discussions are less debates (with possibility of persuasion and enlightenment) than arguments (e.g. big balls of stress). I’ve hidden more people this year on my Facebook timeline than I have in the previous four. It’s easier to keep following people on Twitter, because the character limitation makes it hard for messages to be too obnoxious. But I don’t want to keep ignoring people, especially my closer friends and family — but I will if it means I can “take back the night” and control my online experience.

Instead of piecemeal hiding or un-following, I considered a social media sabbatical like I’ve done before, and others are contemplating. But remember the whole stress thing? Facebook-stalking people and snarking with my peeps on Twitter have been my prime avenues of release for several years, so I’m not about to give them up anytime soon.

As a result of my natural sharing tendencies (those Facebook Like buttons are so shiny!), you might occasionally see me post something on Facebook or Twitter with a political bent. To ensure it’s clear, I do this not to prosthelytize but to share things I truly find interesting; in fact, I’d argue that I’m good about sharing multiple sides of many stories, despite the well-known fact I’m liberal in my beliefs. And if people comment on those posts, they’re welcome to go to town with one another. Just not me.

Anyway, talk amongst yourselves. Just don’t include me until life affords me the opportunity to re-engage and electively stress myself out.

Photo credit: Chris Lee Jones/Threadless