It starts with a few political tweets and a couple of Facebook posts. It might creep into casual conversation on a Tinder date. But it soon spreads. You see trending candidate stories pop up in your newsfeed. Political links and memes are sprinkled throughout your Instagram. Finally, election chatter is everywhere -- at happy hours, in texts, on flyers under your windshield wipers and around doorknobs. You can’t turn on a cable channel without seeing debate coverage or a “Paid for by the we’re-just-concerned-folks blah-blah-blah committee” ad. It all piles up until you want to scream, “Make it stop!” When election season becomes downright dizzying, here are 10 ways to keep your cool so you can get by without blowing your lid.
1. Unfollow Opinionated Friends
Don’t let politics destroy your friendship with that lifelong buddy you’ve had since first grade. While you once shared a love of Totino’s Pizza and “Days of Our Lives,” you may have differing political views as adults. And it might drive you crazy to see them all appear in your feed. So if you’re on the other side of the aisle, and you can’t handle your partisan friends’ Facebook rants, you may want to hide them from your feed until the madness dies down. After election season, you can follow them again and catch every one of their cat and baby photos.
Hashtags are not your friend during election season. So do your part to remain neutral in the hashtag game by keeping them #election2016 #liberal #conservative #democrat #republican and #issues2016-free. Stick with hashtags that everyone appreciates, like #foodporn or #ChrisHemsworth. You’re welcome.
3. Remember, Politics Are Like Sports
What team are you voting for? The one with the elephant mascot? During election season, politics become a sport much like hockey or WWE. You’ve got fans holding signs, wearing stickers and pushing T-shirts. Even the news can’t help but take sides on the “sport” of politics. How to deal? If someone gives you a piece of flair for their “team” -- a flyer, a button, a foam finger -- just remember that they’re only trying to show team spirit. People’s loyalties to teams can be so ingrained that they sometimes don’t know why they’re the No. 1 fan, so try not to be personally offended by their choices. If necessary, politely decline and say that you have your own freak flag at home, thank you very much.
4. Watch for Signs
You want to give a shout-out to the Dems when most of your neighborhood is down with GOP? If you’d like to avoid political squabbling with your neighbors, a safer sign planted in your grass is one that announces your home security system or a For Rent/For Sale sign. The same goes for bumper stickers. We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with declaring your allegiances, but just know that you might be inviting possible negative comments, get your shrubs TP’d or get a bird flipped at you -- and not the feathery kind.
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5. Stream Your TV
When it comes to political programming, no network or cable channels are off limits -- from the questions they ask repeatedly (“What did you do this morning to prepare?” “Uh, I flew here.”) to the sexist remarks they make regarding personal appearance. Even the Weather Channel gets in on the action by shipping some of its meteorologists to swing states to see how bad weather might affect voters’ ability or desire to get to the polls. If you want to bypass all that, play it safe: Curl up with a glass of pinot noir and watch “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schimidt.” There’s also “Transparent,” “Narcos” or any of the other highly addictive shows that are now available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
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6. Create Your Own Campaign Soundtrack
Music is used in campaigns to prompt voters to rally in favor of a candidate or proposition. But the music chosen by political candidates is more likely to induce eye-rolling (Donald Trump playing Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”) Beat the cheesy jams by heading over to muxtape.com, where you can mix your own sweet playlist of songs that scream “Tea Party,” “Green Party” or just simply “party.”
7. Cultivate Honesty in Your Life
It’s common knowledge that politicians are trained to regurgitate talking points and half-truths. Most of their rhetoric is poll-tested and pre-packaged. But really it’s all just messaging, and what we’re left with is so much campaign mush. When you’re tired of politicians spouting stretched truths and outright lies, get real talk from a little kid (preferably one you know). Ask them what they think about anything. Odds are good they’ll give you an honest answer because they’re not yet jaded by life’s injustices -- or they just don’t know any better. You could also book a trip to Helsinki, where, according to the “lost wallet” experiment conducted by Reader’s Digest in 2013, the most honest people in the world live.
8. Dodge the Robots
According to a report done by Pew Research Center in April 2015, 90 percent of Americans have a cell phone and nearly two-thirds own a smartphone. That’s why robocalls and texts are hugely popular ways to get political messages to the masses. They’re also a hugely effective way to annoy the schnorkleflicken out of someone. So if you see a call coming in from an unfamiliar number -- and it’s during election season -- just assume that it’s probably politically related. What’s the easiest way to stop the calls? According to lifehacker.com, just don’t reply.
9. Have a Default Answer Ready
When people ask whom you’re voting for, it’s like they’re trying to start a fight. No matter how you answer there will be a discussion, possibly followed by an exhausting debate with no clear resolution because there’s no right or wrong answer -- only two differing opinions. And really, who has time for that? So if someone asks how you’re voting, come up with a timely yet irrelevant answer, like: “Southern biscuits and gravy. You were talking about the Lays’ Do Us a Flavor promotion, right?”
10. Get a Miniature Therapy Horse
If the amped-up anxiety of state primaries is still getting to you and there’s no end in sight to your pain, perhaps a miniature therapy horse can lend a healing hoof. Pygmy goats and flop-eared bunnies also work in this case.
What Do YOU Think?
Has election season got you stressed or stoked? How do you deal with acquaintances that like to get loud about their political affinities? What ways to do express your political interests? Tell us in the comments below.
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