Talking Politics

The first presidential debate was this week, which means it’s getting harder and harder to escape the buzz of this year’s election. It probably permeates social media more than ever and the candidates are also more polarizing than ever. People feel a strong need to share opinion pieces when they agree with them, which I think mostly serves as an echo chamber for confirmation bias and will almost never convince someone with opposite viewpoints to come over to your side.

This is one of the reasons I hide many people/pages in my Facebook news feed that post rabidly about politics. It also interrupts the kind of escapism I’m looking for on Facebook. Scary Mommy has become particularly guilty of sharing these kinds of opinion pieces that I think tend to alienate half of their audience.

Anyway, I’m not very public about my opinions on politics, but I assure you I have them. I prefer to gather all of my political information from objective news reporting via radio, nightly news and fact checks. It’s just a way of keeping my bias in check and avoiding the urge to reply with my own knee-jerk, self-righteous dissent.

When conversations turn political among friends or family, I’ll try to quickly steer the conversation elsewhere or to some kind of common ground. Talking politics can get tense and can quickly go south. I know I’m not alone in this feeling.

According to Contempo, a political app that allows users to switch between trending stories on both  the”Left” and “Right”sides, many Millennials and Baby Boomers feel this same kind of tension at family gatherings:

  • 54% of Millennials voted Christmas/Hannukah as the most tense social event due to political differences
  • 49% said it was Thanksgiving
  • 47% percent said 4th of July, while their parents’ generation felt cocktails parties (38%) invited the most unpleasant discussions about politics.
With which family member is it most frustrating to talk politics?
Millennials Percent who said this Baby Boomers Percent who said this
1. My parents 19 percent 1. Other (includes “kids” and “friends”) 32 percent
2. My in-laws 16 percent 2. My siblings 20 percent
3. My uncle 12 percent 3. My in-laws 13 percent
4. My grandparents 10 percent 4. My cousins 11 percent
5. My siblings 10 percent 5. My spouse 9 percent

Uncles were voted more than twice as frustrating as aunts, especially by Millennials – 12 percent vs. five percent.

The current political race is complicating family dynamics:

  • 20% of Millennials say their parents are frustrating to talk to about politics
  • 20% of Gen Xers admit to disagreeing with their in-laws the most about politics
  • 20% of Baby Boomers say they fight most with their siblings over political differences
  • Couples are in jeopardy too: one in four Americans say their significant other is supporting the “other” candidate.


Those who vote together, stay together

Nearly three-quarters of Americans across age demographics say they share the same political beliefs as their romantic partners, however one in four Americans did think their spouses might lie to them about a presidential election or if there is an important issue on the ballot that they feel strongly about.

“It’s clear that politics is a big part of Americans’ relationships with their family and friends, and the survey demonstrates that Americans look to news sites and influencers to help them stay informed and educated,” said Sal Arora, CEO of Aleya Labs. “That’s where Contempo comes in—it analyzes the social media sentiment of political influencers, pushing out the top stories based on what’s currently buzzing on both the right and left. It lets you get easily informed about both sides of the story, and hopefully serves as a useful tool to access multiple perspectives.”

I have no idea what will happen with this election, but I do know it will make family gatherings this holiday season even more interesting. Do you recognize this same tension around politics within your own personal relationships?  How do you hope to help keep the peace among loved ones this season?



By Claire

Runs: Half-marathons at most. Prefers relays.
Mom to: 3 boys - no more, no less.
Wine: I'll take a cab.

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