The health insurance reform bill has sparked so much controversy and animosity over the past week. Of course, it’s natural for politics to get testy, but the war of words surrounding this particular measure has gotten downright ugly. People on both ends of the political spectrum have launched into vicious backbiting on public forums like Twitter and Facebook, while some politicians have even allegedly faced death threats.
No matter what your political beliefs, I think we can all agree that this behavior is ridiculous and shameful. It’s great to feel passionately about an issue, but resorting to barbaric tactics, gloating when you win and bitterly complaining—especially on public social networks that can be seen by anyone—brings out the worst in us.
What happened to civility and respect? It seems like some of us have forgotten that it’s possible to stand up for your beliefs without resorting to threats and squabbling.
For starters, you should avoid talking about divisive topics like politics or religion at the office or when you’re surrounded by people you don’t know very well. Ranting on Twitter or Facebook is only going to incite more drama. Who needs the stress? If you do find yourself in a debate, rather than name-calling or belittling the other side, calmly explain your position—offline!—and agree to disagree. Don’t demonize or insult the opposition.
If you oppose something, write a letter to your local politician, but don’t insult or threaten them. Simply state, “I am disappointed that you voted this way and it will influence my vote in the next election.”
How we react to situations says a lot about our character. Do you want to be known as someone who handles adversity with dignity, or as a whiner who is blowing things out of proportion? Do you want to “win” with grace, or with a big, nasty “I told you so”? The former is so much more appealing!