Remember that rule of thumb about what we are not supposed to talk about at a bar with friends? You know, religion, politics and how much you make? Okay, I get the how much we make, but our religious and political views are part of the very fiber of who we are. So, if we completely leave those topics out of the conversation, what is left to talk about? The weather?
The weather, politics and social media
Oh wait. If we start talking about the weather, it’s almost inevitable that global warming (or the new catch phase de jour “climate change”) will come up. Now, there is a topic that can turn friends into enemies for a few minutes while we agree to disagree, right? I’m sure half of you think I’m nuts for not buying into the premise of global warming. But really, does that change the fact that we can like each other, get along and conduct intelligent conversations that debate the merits of both sides of the issue?
It seems like we are all willing to discuss the taboo topics as long as it’s with those who agree with us. Now, where’s the fun in that? Over the last couple years, I’ve spent a great deal more time with folks whose political views are pretty much the exact opposite of mine. They’ve become some of my best friends and trusted business sounding boards. We know we disagree and, when we discuss politics, we do it respectfully. There is a lot to be learned in dialogue with someone you don’t agree with 100 percent of the time.
That brings us to social media. Social media is just talking. So, if you are willing to discuss politics with those who hold opposing points of view face-to-face, why not in the social space? However, you do need to remember a couple of things. Be respectful because what you say in the social space will outlive your biological life span. It’s not a topic everyone will want to engage you about or even see excessive discussions about in your social streams. So, don’t be a one-trick pony and talk about nothing but politics. Of course, if your business is politics or political commentary, this suggestion would not apply.
How I approach political conversation in social media
If you follow me on Twitter, you will catch occasional political comments. I keep the conversations respectful at all costs and avoid name calling and labeling. For example, calling someone a “socialist” or a “tea bagger” is not recommended if you are actually trying to have a conversation that matters. On Facebook, where I pick and choose those I friend more carefully, I will go a bit further with sharing my opinions. Part of the reason I do that is because Facebook does a better job of keeping track of a conversation and maintaining context.
At the end of the day, it comes down to what you want to talk about. If politics is something you care about, then by all means have those discussions in the social space. There are truly no hard and fast rules or taboo topics. It’s up to you to decide who you interact with and who you follow. If someone finds your political conversations to be too much, well, then they can un-follow or un-friend you.
Note: Tune in tomorrow for some exciting news on the expansion of “She Said, He Said!”