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I Hate Politics

  I hate politics. There. I said it. I’ll say it again if I have to.

  About a year ago or so, Facebook let me know that I should totally consider adding “politics” to my list of things I don’t actively want to snuff out of existence. Why? Because a whopping fifty of my friends like politics! Apparently, when Facebook is asked “If your friend jumps off a bridge, would you?” they respond with a hearty “Why the hell not?”

  The thing is, politics is something people “like” or “love” for several reasons, most of which have nothing to do with politics itself. See, no one actually reads about this crap because they are decidedly interested in the inner workings of bureaucracy. I mean legitimately interested in it. Like how aldermen run things. About how state agencies behave in regards to each other. Or the process of compromise, because apparently compromise is one of those filthy communist ideas, like sharing and hugs.

  Instead, it appears that people read about it to reinforce their ideas about “their” people fighting the good fight and those “other” people apparently destroying everything they hold dear. They ignore instances of humiliation for the people they support and revel in the embarrassment of the opposition party. Why? Because people like being right, and they like being smug fuckers about it. It’s confirmation bias played out on a large scale, and it’s super annoying.

Fixed that for you.
Fixed that for you.

  What pisses me off the most about it is just how shitty people behave toward each other because of this stuff. How many status updates, tweets, op-eds, and terrible wish-fulfillment fiction have we had to endure because every two to four years our brains leap from our heads? I’ve had numerous people on Facebook tell me that I was the problem with the United States – not to my face, of course, because that would require both commitment and confrontation. Instead I’m lumped into whatever group they hate at the time – occupation, political party, what have you – and I move from Jonathan Bruce, the human being, friend, neighbor, writer of super hero fiction, to ephemeral boogie man!

  Of course, this isn’t done intentionally. Usually this is following an especially bad day, or an encounter where someone feels powerless, or any number of reasons. I haven’t been named specifically, and it’ll probably be awhile before I am. But the point I’m making is that people doing this lock their judgement in the basement for an entire election cycle and say some of the dumbest shit that comes to mind. Or they simply parrot what others say when they isolate the “real trouble makers”.

  Now that the election is over, I really want you to think about something for a moment: do you legitimately believe that those who disagree with you politically do so because they want to destroy this country? Or do they because they truly believe that their way is the best way forward? If you really think that anyone who can vote would benefit from the collapse of the United States and the subsequent bloodbath/depression/Escape From New York scenario that would develop afterwards, you may need to up the dosage on your medication.

  Conversely, there is a good chance that members of the opposition think you want to tear what it means to be American to pieces. Is this true? Or do you think the way you do because, in your specific experience, you believe you know the best way forward? Really think about this: there are people who feel that you are out there to take away their protection, their rights. I don’t give a flying fuck which side of the political aisle you’re on: Green, Republican, Libertarian, Democrat, Constitution, Socialist, doesn’t matter. There are people out there who think you, personally, want nothing more than to bathe in the blood of their family. Seems silly? Check out some political tweets from the last election – if you were entirely unfamiliar with what was going on, you’d probably think that Democrats and Republicans were being murdered in the streets.

  What is it about politics that makes us start to view each other as enemies? Certainly the rhetoric at every level is at least partly to blame. But that doesn’t justify people – rational, caring, loving human beings – behaving like goddamn surrogates for politicians in day-to-day living. I use Facebook to check up on old friends, steal recipes, clog people’s time lines with Cracked articles, and endlessly post my website in the hopes that someone other than my ladyfriend will show up (hi, Ashlie!). I don’t come on there to be insulted by friends, nor do they come on to be insulted by me.

  People say that this election cycle has been particularly bad. And judging by its aftermath and people’s increasingly erratic behavior (“Secession! Because it worked so goddamn well the last time!”), I’d have to agree. The political animus has spilled over and wormed its way into every facet of our consciousness. Is there a reason? I don’t know. I mean, here’s an article on a website dedicated to dick jokes explaining some of it away saying that I may be crazy, but it’s still making me sad.

  Part of it may be our inability to divorce online behavior with reality. You know the old expression that I may or may not have just imagined to be an old expression, “On a first date, don’t talk politics or religion”? Well, there’s a reason for that: these two topics tend to reduce people into aggressive debaters, unwilling or unable to back down. Well, people tend to throw up a lot of really awful shit up on Facebook and Twitter, apparently not realizing that people outside their trusted cadre of like-minded bros will see it. And the thing about it is that people who are offended by it will probably ignore it but still remember it’s there. And the best part? It’s there forever.

Yup... this is a great idea and I see nothing wrong with this.
Yup... this is a great idea and I see nothing wrong with this. POST!

  Yes, you could take it down, but doing so would require you to know you’ve done fucked up. And most people will simply remember that you think they’re some kind of hideous asshole. And then when there’s a sex scandal or asinine comment that you choose to ignore addressing, they remember your initial comment – “Hey, this fucker thinks I’m worse than Hitler!” – and now associates you with it.

  Wee! Politics!

  This isn’t something that one party or the other does. This is not the domain of one group of people, this is the domain of everyone – myself included. I do try to make sure most of my posts are light and fluffy, and if not, that no one is really targeted as being particularly awful. Unless they’re racist dipshits or misogynist fuckwits. Then I don’t care if they have their feelings hurt. In any case, I do slip up. No specific example comes to mind, but I’m positive they’re there – I just don’t feel any particular desire to dredge up examples of my offensiveness.

  I talk about politics and religion a lot in my office with my fellow TA’s. And there’s a lot of things we (okay, mostly me) say that would make me lose a lot of friends. It’s shit-talking, enemy bashing, team building behavior. When you’re with like-minded people, you tend to be a bit more extreme. Which isn’t necessarily a problem, provided you aren’t killing anyone. But when you go onto Facebook and post that kind of shit, a lot more than just your like-minded compatriots are reading.

  What makes it worse is that Facebook really has the opportunity to civilize the political discourse. Instead, we get into arguments and unfriend people or simply block their status updates. We can prevent certain people from even seeing our posts if we’re afraid they may have something to say about a topic we want to be undisputed on. But those restrictions only work if you put them there: you’ll still have statuses poke through and make you look like an awful troll before someone stops it.

  Long story short (because I’m sick of talking about it), I’m not saying that conversation or debate are a bad thing. They are a fundamental part of a government run by and for the people. But for fuck’s sake, what we’re doing is not goddamn debate. It’s a bunch of miserable little children being assholes to each other. The United States isn’t going to collapse, nor is it going to become anyone’s utopia any time soon. Stop being miserable winners and sore losers and behave like adults.

  Also, NEVER MAKE ME WRITE ABOUT POLITICS AGAIN, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Go back to posting inanities about your work day and stuff that’s important to you that doesn’t make you look like an asshole, m’kay? Can we do that, please?

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