By Victoria Lynn Hall
Navigating political conversations on social media can be tricky and exhausting. I’ve learned the hard way that it is not healthy or productive to respond to everything you disagree with. The best advice I’ve gotten and that I can give is: pick your battles.
But how do you do that when there seems to be one inviting you at every turn?
I naturally did this when I was promoting a candidate or a specific issue. There were clear goals, known strategies, specific guidelines.
However, once all the candidates and issues I was really passionate about were basically off the table, things became a little murky for me. How did I pick my battles when my goals were less defined? Maybe it was time to just retreat or surrender.
I like to think of myself as a lover, not a fighter. In fact, all this war terminology makes me uncomfortable. More than anything, I want a peaceful world. You think I would have jumped at the chance to disengage from all the political conflict and believe me, I tried.
And in some ways I succeeded. I learned that I can provide facts or resources to counter certain assumptions or correct falsehoods but I can’t convince anyone to accept the truth or change their minds and so I began to waste less and less time trying. I also developed a habit of observing what people were saying from a more detached point of view, gathering that research as data to form objective conclusions and questions that I could address with Jesse Crall on our podcast, “Ask Jesse” or in my “Social Media Thoughts” videos.
Still, every now and then, I found myself replying to people with some level of indignation before I even realized what I was doing and there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. It wasn’t one particular issue that drew my ire and it happened with people in different circles that were from all over the political spectrum.
Every time it happened, I would beat myself up about it. Why do you keep doing this?, I would ask myself, Why can’t you remember to pick your battles?
Until it happened again recently and I realized I was picking my battles or at least, they were picking me.
The criteria had been staring me in the face the whole time. I had even explained to a couple of different friends how one encounter had been spurred on not by a need to defend myself but to stand up for other people that I cared about.
This is something I’ve known about myself for awhile now. People can criticize me personally and I can let it go or deal with it privately but when you go after other people I love, all bets are off.
And it turns out that being engaged in politics has given me a capacity to love more people more profoundly than I thought possible. Some of that love has surprised me, like the love I have for Trump supporters – and not just the people I know personally that support Trump in some degree and for varying reasons (all of which I understand but disagree with) – but also the ones I don’t know, who support him for understandable or misguided reasons as well, and yet are lumped into some “deplorable” category by people who should know better.
Less surprising is my love for non-voters, who are statistically among the poorest people in this country and have disengaged from politics not because they don’t care about anyone (as some people who themselves may be one catastrophe away from knowing their pain seem to think) but because politicians have proved time and time again that they don’t care about them (the ever widening economic gap in this country is proof of that).
And I love third party voters, who rather than disengage with politics altogether, take a stand for what they think is right even though it isn’t popular and invites vitriol from people who are too fearful to recognize their courage.
I love Biden voters as well, and especially appreciate the ones who simply explain that they believe it is the best available option but they plan to keep doing what they can to influence needed changes in our political system so that maybe someday people will have something better to choose than a “lesser evil”.
More compassionately, I love all the people around the world who are struggling, suffering and dying because of the corporatist and imperialist policies of the United States government, and find it disturbing that the architects, executioners and enablers of those policies are celebrated for political maneuvering that is falsely promoted as valor.
So I know now how I pick my battles; that it’s not what as much as who that decides them. And no matter the outcome, I vow to no longer regret what I do out of love.
A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.