Op Ed

Takedown: I’m so sick of politics!

Things are getting political all up in here (“here” being “the United States of America”), which means it’s time for everybody (everybody who is anybody, of course) to be sick of politics. The onslaught of “I hate politics!” has made me think about what people are actually trying to say when they post this type of update.

#1: I Don’t Care About Politics

I am
Can you check more than one box?

Here is what the status update is trying to say: “I’m too cool to worry about politics. I am so cool, in fact, that I love to drink! I’m cool.” Duh, if you’re cool, you wouldn’t drink a cocktail. Cocktails are for wussies.

#2: I Think I Don’t Care About Politics

Not a republican, not a democrat, but I hate democrats.

I can’t tell whether this is saying that all Americans hate the president or America has been taken over by a non-American (because, I don’t know if you know this, but he’s Black), but while the person is trying to say that there’s no need to drag politics into it, they…can’t. It’s like a wannabe hipster, trying to pull of not caring about looking cool –  it’s so hard to actually not give a shit!


Screen shot
Meditation time!

Translation: I don’t care, and it annoys me when other people do. Stop it! Stop it!

I’d really love to not give a shit about politics and focus on what’s really important, like a picture of my kid with sweet potatoes all over her face, or a long-winded complaint about the traffic jam I got caught in, or my exercise schedule for the week. But I can’t.

Because politics is everything. Politics affect the safety of the sweet potatoes that I bought and pureed for my kid, and how much time I get to take off work to raise her, and they will affect her education, health, and career for the rest of her life. Politicians decide which roads will be repaired, how much to pay the traffic police to clear up accidents, and what kinds of cars are safe for driving in. Politicians have control over the air quality as I jog, and they have control over the resources available to rescue workers if I get hit by a car.

But but but! Social media is “supposed to be about sharing our lives with each other”! Not arguing about politics!

To pretend that politics has no role in our lives is to be blind. Democracies work because everybody gets to have a say in the direction of their country, and that direction shapes every aspect of our lives. The person I am today would be very different if I had grown up under Stalin, or in an FLDS compound. There is no me without politics. There is no social media without politics, because there is no social fabric.

The thing about Facebook is that it offers a channel for instant gratification. Say something awesome in a crowded room, and a few people might nod, if you’re lucky. Write something awesome as a status update, and BAM! Thirty people have told you they like it. The person who posts a status update bitching about the way other people use Facebook is not actually upset about politics on their newsfeed, because there is a simple solution to that: unfriend or hide. Instead, they are looking for attention, attempting to portray a “cooler than thou” image, I’m the kind of person who skips algebra class to go smoke in the woodshop because learning is for losers. It’s not that I’m too ignorant or brainwashed to understand politics, but instead, I have transcended them. Lookatme, I am awesome.

But you aren’t. Not giving a shit seems cool in high school, but twenty years later, many of those people are working 60 hours a week at Walmart to make ends meet, or trying desperately to quit smoking, or going back to school to make up for what they missed. Not giving a shit about politics might garner you some “yeah! I’m so sick of it too!” comments, but politics matter. What kind of a country do you want to live in? What kind of regulations do you want, what kind of services do you want, what kind of economics do you want, what kind of – everything – do you want? Being above politics means that in twenty years, your world will have passed you by and you have nobody to blame but yourself.

There are times when I don’t want to talk about politics, and I understand if it’s clogging up your newsfeed and you are looking for a break from it. But that’s what the “x” next to the updates are for. The “I’m too busy/cool/interesting/spiritual to even read about politics” crap is just that – crap. None of us exists in a vacuum. The short burst of adrenaline that comes from getting a “like” on a status may make you feel good for a second, but ignoring politics has the potential to make you feel bad for the rest of your life.

By Susan

I am old and wise. Perhaps more old than wise, but once you're old, you don't give a shit about details anymore.

21 replies on “Takedown: I’m so sick of politics!”

What really puzzles me is when the “politics is so stupid!” thing doesn’t come from the sort of people who think it’s “cool” to be uninterested in “smart-people things,” but from people who otherwise pride themselves on being intellectual and academic and yet, they pooh-pooh people who want to discuss politics, as though we’re vulgar and beneath them or something. What is that about?

And if you really are sick of people posting about politics then there’s always the “unsubscribe” option, so you can still be their friend but not see their political posts. I’ve done that with people who are really conservative where I can’t see their posts without flying into a rampage. People are fine with just “unsubscribing” and not making a big deal out of it when it’s, say, someone who posts way too many Farmville updates, or someone who overshares about their relationship, kid, or religious beliefs. It’s only over politics where people aren’t satisfied with just unsubscribing or unfriending, they have to make a public announcement of how awesome they are for not wanting to read any more political posts. *rolls eyes*

ETA: I think with the second type of person, they know in their heart that they’re a conservative Republican but they’ve bought into the stupid “centrist fallacy” that appearing to be in the middle, or not belonging to a party, somehow makes them a more advanced thinker. Those people annoy me to no end.

Also, if someone can’t stomach politics in their feed for whatever reason (I know people who temp unfollow or temp remove from feed because they can’t stomach some of the low blows or factually inaccurate statements, but keep up to date via news sites when their anxiety is manageable) then they don’t have to be high and mighty about it. They can just say “Look, I might temporarily unfollow until after the election to manage my stress levels on here. See you in Novemeber.” or even say that they are keeping up with the issues but can’t handle it in that venue and they’ll be back.

People who act like they are entitled to control what other people are involved in, and act like it’s an almighty judgement to unfollow or that politics are not important bother me. A lot. But yeah, there are alternatives if your reason isn’t to be a political equivalent of a hipster.

This is a bit of a tangent, but I love that you clarified where “here” was.

I say this so often, but I just don’t understand #2. There’s a patriotism (for want of a better word) in the US that seems so … I don’t know … aggressive? That really isn’t well worded, but I’ve seen the sentiment of #2 before and still can’t quite get my head around it.

Yes! In Ireland the only time you see the tricolour is if there’s a big sporting occasion on (and it’s similar in the UK, as far as I know)  whereas lots of places in the US there seem to be planted in everyone’s lawn by default. The “We’re number one!!!!1!!1!”-style nationalism is… weird. It’s disquieting.

Yes, things are here are as you describe them in Ireland. It’s downright odd to see flags (Saltire, Union Jack, etc) on houses or plastered on a surface unless it’s a big event like the Jubilee or something sport related. Disquieting is a very, very good way of putting it.

I think because I associate it with sectarianism as well e.g: the tricolour and Union Jack being used by the different groups in Northern Ireland (and in the case of the Union Jack, by excreble groups like the BNP as well) – it’s not a happy, neutral symbol.

Actually, I’m American, I like my country, and I don’t get this shit either. I get the people who don’t like affiliating themselves with a political party because they worry that it will involve a little too much walking in lockstep or toeing a party line. One of the shittyest mayors Detroit ever had was a Democrat. I could understand too a call to end extreme partisan enmity in order to pull together on problems where the parties don’t actually disagree all that much, because then shit gets done. But that particular statement is so bizarre to me. Real ‘Murricans don’t have party affiliations? The country is not in the control of Americans? The poster is really angry about something but cannot articulate it well so he falls back on some cliche stars and stripes imagery in hopes that will carry the message for him? I dunno.

American patriotism can take a stupid bend though wherein to love your country you must apparently fail to see virtue in any other place but America. It’s baffling and irritating, and I don’t understand it.

As for flags on lawns and such, they are about as good an indicator of extreme patriotism here as a statue of the virgin mother is an indicator of devout Catholicism. It’s not completely without meaning, but mostly people just like the decoration.

Ah, I made rather a generalisation about Americans there. Apologies for doing so – I know better than to think all Americans are the same.

It’s really interesting to see your perspective on this, and very much, this rings true:

American patriotism can take a stupid bend though wherein to love your country you must apparently fail to see virtue in any other place but America. It’s baffling and irritating, and I don’t understand it.

It’s a behaviour that isn’t endearing, that’s for sure.

The comparison between flags and religious statues is really interesting, too, and you’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you so much for sharing.

Oh, no worries, I didn’t think that was what was happening, just wanted to air that this can be every bit as distressing inside the country as out of it. As for the statue thing, I think that comparison sprung to mind because I knew someone in college who did a project where she went around photographing the statues in her neighborhood and knocking on doors to ask people about them. Most folks said they had them because they seemed nice, or they thought they looked good. Likewise I know a lot of people who like to have a flag on the lawn because they like it as decoration, not so many that think they should parade patriotic feeling all over the place.

It’s always good to hear another perspective, and I really have enjoyed reading your points on it all. Fascinating project, and an interesting insight into the associations people make, as well as how they can allow for certain symbols to simply be decoration.

I don’t think it’s ever the case that they don’t believe in the symbols that they use as decoration, just that they aren’t putting them out there to be a signal to all and sundry that they love this thing ever so much. It just indicates that they have enough of a regard for the symbol to find it aesthetically pleasing.  It’s, “I like America, and I think a flag would look nice on the porch,” vs “America is bestest country ever! I must raise a flag in it’s honor!” or “I am Catholic, and I think a statue of Mary would look nice in that flowerbed,” vs “I must show my devotion to the Virgin by erecting a shrine to her on my lawn.”

Exactly! Whenever I’ve heard someone say “why do you care about politics? the parties are the same” it’s usually from someone where the ways that the two parties are actually very different (e.g. on women’s rights, LGBT rights, helping the poor and middle class, etc.) don’t really impact their lives in a meaningful way (or they don’t realize that they do).

The two parties are only “the same” if all you care about is “omg they’re bought out by big business and lobbyists!” and not, you know, the actual individual issues.

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