Relationships could take a while to mend.
Finally, after many grueling months of torture, we are about to be set free. Americans have been rejoicing over the weekend in anticipation of that day when they can reclaim their television sets, radios and internet; grab the day's mail without having hordes of glitzy oversized postcards and flyers fall out; and view a clear landscape while driving down the street. Come Wednesday, things will all be back to normal (whatever that may be), right?
OK, maybe not. Election 2012 will be buzzed about for at least the next month across all the media, longer if any of these hotly contested races end up in overtime.
Is it only my warped perception, or has this election really strained or destroyed more personal relationships than any other in the history of the United States, thanks in huge part to the social media? Can these relationships be salvaged and mended once the election is over?
We'll just have to wait and see.
My friends and family mean the world to me, and I treasure close acquaintances as well. Although we may not hold the same political views, I respect that they have the right to believe anything they choose to and as such, do not even attempt to sway them over to my side. With those who hold different views on explosive topics like women's rights, gay marriage, voter I.D., gun control and health care, I prefer to avoid discussing these altogether, instead sticking with such innocuous topics as celebrity and local gossip, our families and the weather.
Movies and music would normally fall under the safe topic list, but I've found that even these can provoke heated discussions between political opposites during the campaign season. When conservative friends/family begin touting "2016: Obama's America," for instance, I'll try to change the subject. If he/she persists, it's time to walk away. On the flip side, I shy away from even mentioning any Michael Moore film to people who lie anywhere right of slightly liberal on the political spectrum.
As far as music goes, while tastes don't necessarily align along political lines among my family and friends, there are some patterns that have emerged. Everyone in my age range (35-60) enjoys a wide variety music genres, including glam rock, hard rock, modern country and classic rock (whatever that is). Interestingly, the liberal-leaning folks are the ones who seem to gravitate more toward classic country and '70s and older rock, along with folk rock, which isn't at all a surprise. The conservatives appreciate hard-hitting country tunes that twang about the right to bear arms, gals standing by their guys, patriotism, good old southern living and family values. A number of my conservative-leaning chums do get a little testy when they hear anything from the late '60s/early '70s other than sweet and sappy, war protest songs and tunes decrying corporate greed.
How did I come to these musical conclusions? Why, Facebook, of course. It's amazing what you can learn about a person from playing SongPop against him or her. I've also been surprised, in some cases suffering from shock, at how many "friends" are voting Republican. I suspect that at least a few are independents who have chosen to vote this way in this election only. But others are, no doubt, lifelong party members who previously gave me no clue as to their party affiliation.
It is a refreshing thought that some people are able to hide their heart on their sleeve and break it out only rarely and at appropriate times. While I certainly admire the political activists who staunchly fight for their beliefs and the semi-activists who defend their party's stances to a point, I have the same respect for those who do have strong political views but for the most part, manage to keep them obscured from public view.
Make no mistake, though – I still have too many Facebook and other friends/relatives who are out of control, trying to push their political agendas on everyone who can see their posts or who will listen. And some of these agendas, I agree with, but not how they are being used as a public forum. They belong in a closed group where like ideas are shared.
If we stick to the rule of avoiding taboo subjects – especially during the campaign months – the majority of my other-leaning friends/family/acquaintances and I can get along famously. There are, after all, plenty of things other than election-related issues to talk about, many of which we have actually found common ground on. Some of us can even carry on such scintillating conversations – sans any inkling of political matter – that you'd never know we're polar opposites in terms of our ideologies.
Hmmm, perhaps those folks we so graciously put in office could take a few lessons from us...
P.S. DON'T FORGET TO VOTE ON TUESDAY!