Why I’m Apolitical (And you should be, too)

At certain points during our lives, we choose paths unlikely to win us popularity points.

I should know. 

Before we get started, I want to make it clear I’m not about to run afoul of Tessera’s policy regarding religion & politics. Being inflammatory only brings me joy in non-political forums. I’m not about to pick sides, lob stones, or name names. Nope. Not gonna do it.

And that’s kind of my whole point.

When I was a younger, more impressionable man, life was different. I believed in the power of opinions. I allowed myself to be flooded with hope for the world. I was un-jaded, un-corrupted. I belched rainbows and sweated sunshine. I was willing to pick sides and issue no apologies for it.

And then my third birthday rolled around.

And I woke the fuck up.

In this world we live in, Opinions are king and Perceptions queen. The meaning of truth is equivocated with facts (two totally different things.) Web, television, and radio media swirl around our heads, an infinite shitstorm of people talking, re-talking, threatening, screaming, offending, and apologizing-but-not-really-meaning-it. Politics feel pernicious, and yet unstoppable. Turn on one channel and you’ll hear one side murdering the other. Click onto any of ten thousand websites and you’ll see the other side get just as poisonous. Everyone feels everyone else is wrong…and that it’s their sacred duty to talk about it and post comments linking to it. And we soak it up, don’t we? We slurp up everyone else’s spaghetti of opinions as though words were sweet sustenance, as if talking were the same thing as doing, as if one side were any less in-it-for-themselves than the other.

Ever watched a political rally? If not, don’t start now. Generally speaking, it’s a big pile of people applauding one singular person. I don’t understand it. I’m dead serious. I legitimately want someone to explain what’s really going on during these things. Is the person on the podium heroic? Have they leapt into the future, delivered on all their promises, and Michael J Fox’d it back to the here and now with proof of their success? I can’t grasp what would drive a person to applaud someone standing on stage and promising things. Not these days. Not ever. These people say things that even the people clapping must surely know in their hearts aren’t going to happen. Things we all know are beautiful lies, and yet are willing to smile and dance for.

And every election season, it happens all over again.

My Hope on a Pole

That’s me on a pole, waiting for someone to NOT lie to me.

But by politics, I don’t only mean the selection of government officials and the exhausting narrative surrounding their rise and downfall. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, one raisin in the whole damn cookie. What I’m really talking about is people politics. The social media freight train, with all its #TheseLivesMatter and #Raise$$$forMyCause and #BashThisGuyOverHere. Know what I mean? Yeah…you do. But in case you’re like me and live under a rock, here are a few examples:

Video Game Girl Teaches Basement Dwellers a Lesson

Cops Lives Matter

And most especially I’m Still Calling You Bruce (Jenner.)

Yeah. Stuff like this. Does not compute.

Now. Let’s be clear. I’m not judging people who get involved in these discussions. I get the allure. I really do. People want to shout and be listened to. People want their opinions #ToMatter. People see a cause from a distance and want to support it. And to a certain degree, they want to post something relevant (and possibly witty) on Facebook and have their words become part of the larger discussion. It’s not exactly narcissism. But here’s what I need explained to me. And again, I’m serious. I want to know why hurling oneself around the web like a social media warhead is appealing. Why? Why do we need to be heard regarding issues that we’re powerless to affect? Why is the focus on other’s people’s opinions and not the truth? What is the purpose of engaging these issues using words, but rarely actions? If you’re not BFF’s with Caitlyn Jenner, if you’re not driving to Ferguson with guns-in-hand to support one side or the other, and if you’re not moved enough by feminist causes to actually treat the women in your life better, why do you care? Why are you involved? Why? I need to know.

Because let’s face it; the serious social and political issues of our day aren’t going to be solved or even legitimately addressed on Twitter, Facebook, CNN, or Fox News. Nope. Not even close. Sorry. We can compromise or insult, be thoughtful or obnoxious, be funny and cute or dry and witty as death itself. Doesn’t matter. The deep, dark problems that live and breed in our world will only be solved with:

A. Shit-tons of money…meaning rich people will win

B. Violence. And lots of it. Meaning no one will win.

What does that mean?

It means 5,000 retweets of important social issues don’t matter.

It means thoughtful or incendiary commentary on why one political party is garbage (but not the other) is just dust in the wind.

It means the only way your government will experience swift change is if hundreds of thousands of people take up arms…and die.

It means all the anger, frustration, butthurt-ness, and feelings of powerlessness just aren’t compatible with anyone trying to achieve peace and happiness.

Is that too dark, too cynical? Maybe so. But maybe not.

Look. Let’s get to the point.

I’ve got just one real question:

Does being political make you happy?

Well? Does it?

If not, rock the boat…just not the vote.

If you want more philosophy like this in your life, read my latest book, 444 Questions for the Universe.

If not, have a nice day.

J Edward Neill

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  1. I’m with you. On occasion I have been sucked in, usually when something is happening directly to a friend. But outside of that… I stopped watching televised news years ago for this exact reason. And I’ve been happier for it.

  2. Yeppers. And the political season seems to have an ongoing, never-ending lifespan too. I’d rather leave all the strife behind and burp rainbows.

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