I screwed up this week. When I started doing a lot of socializing, I made a conscious decision Not to get into discussions about politics. And for quite a long stretch I managed that quite well. It’s not that I never express any political opinions, so much as that I try hard mostly to talk about other things.
I have strong political opinions. I think most people do. But in my experience all too often when people talk about political things online, it all too often descends from basic disagreement to name-calling to flame war. I am a veteran of many flame wars. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to do flames anymore. In my experience flame wars ruin threads for most users and if a site, a group or a forum suffers from repeated and persistent flame wars, it will almost certainly lose users until it becomes no longer viable. And in all honesty, I have only very rarely seen anyone’s mind changed about a political issue in an online debate.
There was a time when my online social life revolved around dating sites for gay men. But since bonding with my partner, those sites really bored me. I have been involved in various online political and blogging related groups (and have seen many formerly great hangouts flame warred away. So I try not to get into political discussions. It helps that I often hang out with people from other countries, who generally are not interested in getting into discussions of US politics. But I have many friends here in the US too, and being human I slipped up and got into the kind of discussion that I really try to avoid getting into. I’m happy to discuss most anything, but I’d really appreciate it if we DON’T talk about politics.