Political Differences Don’t Have to Destroy Relationships

Politics. In today’s media-saturated culture, where information is literally available at our fingertips, no other topic brings up bigger feelings and causes greater disagreements. When these disagreements occur between friends or family, the hurt can last beyond a single debate and have lasting implications on relationships. Is it possible for us to be politically engaged, especially in the age of social media, without destroying friendships or family ties? I believe the answer is yes … if we are careful.

It’s important to recognize that all our political views are shaped by multiple factors, including the culture we were raised, our life experiences, and often, our faith. When we disagree with a friend, we must consider these factors, and also continually remind ourselves that we are all complex, unique, and human. We must not reduce one another to a single issue, or stance, and continually strive for empathy as we discuss the issues impacting our daily lives. 

If possible, take conversations OFF social media. 

Social media is amazing. We are able to make connections with people online that would be infinitely more difficult {or even impossible} without it. But, having nuanced political disagreements behind a keyboard is difficult. Tone is misinterpreted, and we often become more brazen and brash when we aren’t face to face with the person we are conversing with. Compassion and understanding are overshadowed by quick, biting responses, emojis, and links. When sitting across from someone over a cup of coffee, we soften, and regain a sense of shared humanity. We are able to connect on a more personal level, and look at one another as complex people instead of one-dimensional political views. 

Exit the Echo Chamber

For those of us who are politically engaged, we tend to ingest a steady media diet of content that reinforces our already-held beliefs. This is normal human behavior; it makes us feel confident that we are in the right, and gives us an arsenal of talking points to use in debates with the other side. However, part of participating in healthy relationships is listening and considering the views of people with whom we disagree. If two people are arguing without a true understanding of the other’s perspective, the result will most likely just be anger and frustration. By exiting our echo chambers and reading, listening, and watching media on the other side of the political spectrum than our leaning, we gain perspective, understanding, and quite possibly a renewed confidence in our own views. Several suggestions on how to exit the echo chamber are…

  • Visit allsides.com :: This website aggregates news articles from many news outlets and rates them according to how left-leaning, right-leaning, or centric they are in their biases. Often there are multiple articles covering the same news story so visitors to the site are able to read different perspectives on the same event. 
  • Change up your media diet :: If you are a loyal FoxNews viewer, watch a few segments on CNN. If you consider yourself a liberal, find some conservative voices to follow on Twitter. Start listening to political podcasts focused on nuanced discussion and healthy debate, such as Pantsuit Politics {a woman from the right and a woman from the left smartly debate politics and current events}.
  • Engage in healthy debates, either online or off, with the goal of listening and learning … not necessarily winning. 

Fact Check

We are all tired of the constant cry of Fake News, but the truth is, there is a lot of misinformation out there. Before we post a meme, blog post, or news article supporting whatever claim we are trying to make, we need to make sure the “facts” are in fact, facts. Remember, anyone can publish anything on the internet, and any picture can be photoshopped. Also, the news moves at breakneck speed, so check the date on an article before posting it. Three reliable, non-partisan fact checking websites are ::

 Don’t be a Troll

Troll :: a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages…with the intent of provoking an emotional response… {Source :: Wikipedia}

One of the quickest ways to lose credibility {and friends} is trolling while engaged in political debates. This includes ::

  • Name calling
  • Stereotyping or generalizing {Republicans don’t care about people, liberals are always pushing their Godless agenda…}
  • Attacking someone’s character in response to their political position. 

In general, it’s a good idea not to say or post anything online that we wouldn’t also say in person, while looking someone in the eye. Keyboard courage gets a lot of us in trouble, and can lead to hurt feelings and damaged relationships. 

As moms, we care about the world in which we are raising our children. Therefore, we should care about the elected officials entrusted with making and enforcing laws that will impact our families for generations. It is crucial to be educated and informed so we can engage in meaningful discussions about current events with the people we both love and interact with regularly. However, we must always be mindful that the person sitting across from us at the coffee shop or across town behind our computer screen is in fact, a real person. Let us not forget one another’s humanity as we participate in productive political debate. 

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2 Responses to Political Differences Don’t Have to Destroy Relationships

  1. jean merritt November 11, 2017 at 10:12 am #

    Dear Elizabeth,

    God bless you! What a gift He has houston,citygiven you, and that you are developing, in expression through writing. This article is superior, and I trust will be helpful and influence many people. Thank you, and keep up the good work. Loving you always, Grandmother

  2. jean merritt November 11, 2017 at 10:14 am #

    Dear Elizabeth,

    God bless you! What a gift He has you, and that you are developing, in expression through writing. This article is superior, and I trust will be helpful and influence many people. Thank you, and keep up the good work. Loving you always, Grandmother

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