My Rules of Engagement for the 2020 Election

I’m a political junkie! I study politics, write about politics, and inevitably get into discussions about politics. Political discussions have a tendency to get heated. The deeper you get into the discussion, the likelier to be fact free. I’ve decided to establish some rules that will govern my interactions. These will apply to my blog posts, discussions, and most of all the comments section for articles I write. If I’m commenting on your blog, feel free to establish your own rules. Here we go:

  1. Use your words! For clarity, memes are not words, links to someone else’s site are not your words. If you can’t express yourself in your own words, your opinion is not required.
  2. Be civil. In the words of the late Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?” I know that losing an argument is frustrating but refrain from personal attacks, especially on other commenters on my blog. I don’t believe in censorship but bad behavior will get you booted. It won’t be your “conservative views” but asshole tendencies.
  3. I won’t argue with my friends. I don’t mean the Internet only friends that I have no interaction with outside of social media. If you’re a real friend and our views are diametrically opposed. I’ll grant you the right to your opinion, I won’t even insist you grant that right to me. My friendships don’t require agreement.
  4. Be prepared to document your beliefs. We all process a lot of information and unfortunately a lot of what we see/hear/feel isn’t true. You (or even me) repeating something you heard doesn’t make it true. I have no problem documenting what I say, as long as it’s a reasonable request and you ask nice. You should be prepared to do the same.
  5. I won’t debate someone without a prerequisite level of knowledge. If you have no sense of history. If you don’t understand our election system or the Constitution. If you can’t use your own words (See Rule #1). We don’t have any business conversing. Go read some books.
  6. Stay calm. It’s still just a discussion. If you can’t keep from devolving into personal insults, you’re doing something wrong. It’s okay to be wrong and admit it. I’m wrong sometimes and try to learn from the experience. If you have no desire to learn anything, what’s the point in engaging?

That’s it. Six simple rules to abide by and we’re good. Be sure to vote as well, talking and not voting is time wasted.

Reclaiming My Time!

“Reclaiming my time” is a phrase commonly heard in the House of Representatives to get the floor back when another member is speaking. Maxine Waters made it famous when she cut off Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchen as he tried to bullshit his way through testimony before her committee until the allocated time for questioning ran out. He was wasting her valuable time and she wasn’t having it. Getting away from politics, maybe reclaiming our time is an effective way to improve our lives? Not allowing the precious gift of time to be wasted by people and things of little or no value.

Social media is a huge time waster. While it arguably connects people in many ways. The entire time spent on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc., replaces in-person interaction with real people. As an aspiring writer trying to market a book to literary agents, I’m required to “build a platform,” measured in Twitter and Instagram followers and Facebook friends. While I need to put in work on social media, I don’t owe it my life. I’ve found more productive things to do than see what’s trending.

Get some exercise. As someone who has pounded his feet flat over a lifetime of playing basketball. I can attest that there’s some kind of exercise everyone can do that will improve your health and is a far more valuable use of time than posting selfies.

Turn off the damn TV! I’m getting better at this. An avowed political junkie. When news breaks I might watch different takes on the same event on multiple consecutive shows. I’m still hooked on Rachel Maddow although I’ll walk away from a guest host in a minute while she’s taking some of her well-earned vacation days. I generally prefer to read my news anyway. It tends to be more factually oriented and logically presented although exceptions abound.

Speaking of reading, I have rediscovered a lost love. In grade school, I almost burned down the house by falling asleep with a lamp under the covers. Reading past my bedtime. If I once loved reading enough to risk my life. It’s certainly worth spending time doing now. Reclaiming my time.

Reclaiming your time is the end result of examining your priorities and making a change. Whether it be your career, relationships, or how you spend your free time. I challenge everyone to recognize those ways you waste your time and reclaim it. Substituting what you were doing with something better.

Don’t Fall For The Hype of Facebook Likes & Comments

I wrote a politically related story, referred to below, and forwarded it as usual to the Facebook groups I belong to who typically share (or oppose) my views. The feedback was instantaneous. Hundreds of likes and other reactions, dozens of comments, some shares. Then I look at the Medium statistics and see at present; 14 views and 6 reads.

There are only two conclusions I can reach:

  1. Medium somehow fails to capture a high percentage of viewers/readers that felt strongly enough to comment or react to the stories.
  2. People are so locked into their own views that they find reading unnecessary and simply comment and like, love, wow, sad, angry based on the title alone without taking in information that might inform their view.

I’d like to believe it’s the first possibility yet find the second prospect far more likely. If a writer posts a story and people only pretend they’ve read it. Does it make a noise?

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