There’s a certain stigma surrounding politics and the workplace. One that keeps good people from discussing important things like education, civil rights, or in-office abortions. In fact, it can sometimes be seen as a direct attack on a fellow colleague if you so happen to even mention which way you’re leaning - left or right.
The stigma, origins unknown, is perhaps the product of government influence. You know, the whole They don’t want the public informed conspiracy. But that’s just hogwash right? How else do you explain the fact that they don’t teach a lick of politics or any proper tax etiquette in public schools? The only thing I can remember from my government/economics class is that Laissez-faire means having a ‘hands off’ economy (we remembered this bit by imitating a certain sexual act).
So how do you maintain a working relationship with those you so strongly disagree with? How do you have a positive outlook on life, career, or the future, if Sally down the hall is inadvertently preventing your cancer-ridden children from staying on your health care plan another few years?
The quick answer is you don’t.
Fuck what Sally down the hall thinks. If you’ve got an opinion on an issue, voice it. Most people, however, would find themselves unemployed if they took that advice. So here are a few tips on how to completely avoid the topic all together.
Stay off Facebook:
First of all - your auntie doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about. Not anymore than you know how to sew a button. Your racist Uncle is a little worse for the wear now too. They’re both Baby Boomers and they once had to ask you how to navigate Facebook. So the next time they start posting racist, misinformed, opinion-based news articles, just unfollow them. Use an easy tactic they’re unaware of because they’ll never know the difference.
If you start arguing back, I guarantee you it will be a hole in which the lotion does not come down in a basket.
There is a network of Facebook-Using Baby Boomers that have already been blocked and ignored by the young half of their family and friends. They only have each other to talk with and when you open that door it’ll never close. You argue with your Aunt, she’ll garner attention from your Uncle, he’ll bring in a few older cousins, your stepmother is now involved and eventually your biological mother will start asking you personal questions inside your friend's status bars.
Facebook is not designed to host your debates. It is designed to be the perfect system for non-anonymous trolling. All it takes is one clever joke to combat your point of view and suddenly your entire high school graduating class is proving that 4 years of education should not be enough to guarantee a diploma.
Last point - if you start a debate on Facebook. You’ll finish that debate - whether you get your work done or not. Trust me - I once spent an entire workday checking Facebook so much that I’d nearly forgotten an entire meeting scheduled over a month ago (but of course I was already prepared and that meeting was seamless because I’m a professional and this is a blog post intended to exaggerate the truth).
Separate Political Talk from Political Action
Get a good look at your coworkers and colleagues. Measure them up as quietly as you can and before a political debate gets heated (or even begins) ask them if they’re registered to vote.
Chances are, anyone reading this is a millennial and millennials are famous for either being unregistered to vote, or generally not making it to the polls this past election. Hillary just wasn’t a good enough candidate; and can you blame the millennials for not being roused enough to vote? Yes. Yes you can.
Not voting and then complaining about the result is like not wrapping your junk and then complaining when you get herpes.
If more than half the people in your office are unregistered to vote, then congratulations - you’ve won every single political argument from here on out. Simply because of your credibility as a citizen.
If more than half the people in your office are registered but decided not to vote, then relax - you’re about to win every single political argument from here on out. Simply because your actions speak louder than their words.
If more than half the people in your office are registered and did in fact vote in this election year then I’m sorry - you no longer have an upper hand in any political arguments from here on out. The advice here is to keep your mouth shut until the work day is over.
Don’t Get Caught with Fake News
Some people still have trouble deciding between the two - fact or alternative fact. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s been estimated that a mere 5% of healthy adults are immune to hypnosis. That means that when the White House, or the President of the United States, or an entire news organization tells you to believe an utter falsehood, believing them is not only likely, it’s expected.
Fake news is a lot like Reality TV - it comes from real people; is talked enough about to seem real; and enough real cash goes into it that you would assume anything false would be a waste of money. It's also designed to inhibit an emotional response from you. When your favorite reality star is humiliated on television, you rush to social media in their defense. You ask, Why would anyone say that about her? She's so gorgeous! Whatever was said to insult the star was either already scripted or motivated by the producers. It's drama. It wants you to react - no matter how infantile your reaction may be.
If you see a politically driven article online that immediately makes you angry or sad or even hungry then you should second guess its motives - most likely it's part of a propaganda machine.
I advise you to start reading trusted print sources before you click on anything else. Get the paper and read the beginning of each and every article. You don’t even have to finish the damn thing. Journalists are trained to put the majority of pertinent information into the first few paragraphs.
Once you get into the habit of reading the first paragraphs, you’ll discover how easy it is to keep going. Just keep reading! By going further than the first paragraph, you're already surpassing President Trump's literacy skills!
After reading everything online for years, your eyes will begin to thank you. You’ll realize how much you miss a good serif font and how much easier it is to concentrate when what you’re reading isn’t backlit by a fluorescent screen. Remember that you have authority over these words - meaning you can underline main points and prepare yourself for any coming arguments.
Check the Publication. Check the Author’s name. Check for a date and then conduct a search for any corroborating articles. Repeat.
Become an Introverted Person
You know what? If it’s too hard to avoid the discussion of politics, then just avoid all discussion.
Go into work early and ignore any interactions with colleagues on the train. Bring in your own lunch and go eat in the shared cafeteria space that no one sits in. Make a tuna sandwich every day to ensure no one wants to sit beside you while you eat.
Work with headphones in your ears 24/7. You don’t necessarily have to even play music in them. Just having them on will tell others to leave you the hell alone. It definitely helps to have an affinity for heavy metal or anything of an inappropriate nature. Though if you keep it silent, you can secretly listen to those around you without having to participate in conversation.
Stay at work late and don’t even motion to get up until everyone else has already left. Drop your cigarette habit, if you have one. Buy a Scifi/fantasy book that looks as though you do nothing else in your life but read - meaning it has to be at least 3,000 pages long. Stop wearing deodorant. Brush your teeth every other day and keep at least three bottles of anti bacterial alcohol gel on your desk - no one wants to start a conversation with someone who’s more concerned about the dirt on their hands than the smell in their mouth.
Quit your job
If you really can’t help discussing politics with your coworkers then realize that this entire blogpost has been satirical and either argue away at your colleagues until you're blue in the face or just quit.
If you’re working with someone who blindly supports their political affiliation then you’ll never get through to them and you should just stop.
If you're working with someone who thinks political discussion is unimportant and ruins relationships then you should quit immediately and find a job working with like-minded people.
Politics are important. Don't let anyone tell you different. There’s no reason to disrupt your friendships with people over political issues, but these people aren’t your friends, are they? No. They’re your coworkers. And if you happen to be in a creative working environment then discussion should be warranted. How do you expect to get any work done if you can’t have a civil discussion with your desk mate?
Though, if you’re like me, you may realize that life is too short not to work for something you’re passionate about. Millennials have the world in their crowded palms right now. It’s between Politics and Beyonce’s next snapchat what will govern their lives.
We don’t need to be guided by those who wish to ignore our passion for democracy. The whole system doesn’t work if no one is paying attention! How do we not realize that yet?
If you’re working in an environment that squanders your ability to discuss important issues like National Security or Health Insurance then fucking quit already. Yeah we all need to pay rent but what’s the difference if eventually we’re all living inside Donald Trump's martial law?