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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Afraid to Share With Friends?

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Over at FiveThirtyEight is an interesting new poll. Its title? "Tell Us The Political Belief You're Scared To Share With Friends."

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Image by vivienviv0, via Pixabay, license.
We want to know about the political opinion you're most nervous about sharing with otherwise like-minded people. What's the closely held belief you don't talk about in social settings, because you're worried how it will go against the grain? Is it who you voted for in the last election? How you feel about socialism? Do you think gerrymandering isn't so bad? Does your stance on abortion fall outside the mainstream belief of your friend group?
I am personally having a hard time thinking of anything for myself, but I'm middle-aged and am of the mind that I probably would not want to be "friends" with someone who would write me off or retaliate against me over one of my political positions. Although I don't advertise my politics, I do not hide them, either. If I think someone is a friend, I will have no trouble discussing politics with that person, even if I disagree. And I like to think I have a good grasp of which settings are good for such conversations and which aren't.

That said, I would definitely be on guard against discussing just anything any time with not-so-close friends, casual acquaintances, or (particularly) coworkers. There are plenty of people out there who become confused or emotional enough about political topics that it is pointless and very unpleasant to discuss them -- and a very few of these will have no problem making life difficult for someone they disagree with, if they see a chance to do so.

The only way, off the top of my head, that I can wrap my mind around such a question is that this might be a problem for the young, who lack self-confidence or experience with discussing contentious issues, or people living somewhere in which the overwhelming majority have very different beliefs, such as a non-leftist living in a very blue city or a secularist residing in a rural part of the Bible Belt. But even then... I'd be something of an outcast in either area, and am not sure there would be many people I could count as friends. I could see that. I could imagine having, among my small circle of friends in such a place someone who might feel freer than I would like about broadcasting my political beliefs to non-friends. In such a case, that might depend on where I am and which friend(s) I am with. Perhaps this is what they are after.

At any rate, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes from this poll.

-- CAV

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