Political discussion is often fraught with emotions like anger and frustration; it saps time and energy; it risks friendships.
The mass of downsides of discussing politics in the current political climate is a strong argument for those who simply choose to not engage. In the US (but not everywhere), the common wisdom is to avoid politics in polite company. But despite these downsides, many of us continue to engage anyway.
To put forth such effort and absorb such cost requires a very good reason.
Take a moment to sit back and ask yourself: “why do I discuss politics?” As soon as you have an answer, challenge yourself on whether that’s true, or whether there’s something else going on.
There may be different reasons that have more or less emphasis for different people. Perhaps you enjoy the thrill of good debate, or sharpening your mind’s logical skills. Perhaps you want to learn about what others believe in order to refine your own beliefs. Perhaps you want to make the world a better place by disabusing others of their inaccurate beliefs.
Hold in your mind the most important or prominent of these reasons, and imagine: how would you talk about politics in order to best achieve your goal? What would an ideal conversation--online, in-person, wherever--look like? Who would you talk with? What kinds of questions would you ask?
Imagine this conversation in vivid detail, and compare it to how you have conversations when you're at your “best” and your “worst.” What changes could you make that would have the biggest impact on bringing you closer to your ideal way of talking about politics? What emotions or bad habits might be holding you back?
If we are able to get into the habit of asking ourselves--before we speak and before we type--why we discuss politics, we will find ourselves gradually changing our behaviors to better achieve that goal. We will become more effective at getting whatever we want, rather than letting our emotions distract us.
So let us know in comments below: why do you talk about politics?