I used to be of the Political Type.
Now that I’ve lived in San Diego for nearly two years, I have quite a few close friends here. They’re wonderful, and I adore them, and I usually find that they tend to know me rather well. However, they have yet to see a different side of me. See, 2012 is sneaking up on all of us, and it might as well already be 2012 – you’d think so, at least, if you tune in to any cable news channels and absorb the incredible amount of political news aired daily. Twenty-twelve means an awful lot to the Political Type: it’s the next presidential election, and even if the Mayans are right, it’s still gonna happen.
Most of my friends here in San Diego probably haven’t seen evidence that I used to be very, very political. (For the sake of simplicity, “political,” in this blog post, will refer to the overall American political scene.) I was quite adamant in my political beliefs, and it showed; I conducted most conversations in pol-speak, always seeking out the political nature behind any topic, cultural phenomenon, or newsworthy event. In high school, journalism became my most serious interest, and politics seemed to fit hand-in-hand. Although I still wanted to be a sports journalist at some point, I often found myself dreaming of that coveted front seat in the White House Briefing Room (if I can’t have Helen Thomas’ seat, I’m glad the AP does). My father and I also connect rather well over politics; he involved me in our local party’s activities from a very young age and we still talk about politics pretty much anytime we pick up the phone to chat.
The thing is, I’m not terribly political anymore. Well, at least not like I used to be. Okay, so I still post some things of a political nature on my Facebook, but that gets harder all the time; it’s tough to please everyone, and while that’s not really my goal when posting political items on Facebook, I like to keep my wall more happy and friendly than political and angry. I’ve seen some horrendous firestorms on Facebook walls, and while intelligent discussion is fantastic, it can easily spiral down into flame wars.
I don’t know exactly why I’m not as willing anymore to be political, but I think my political nature began to decline with a few developments: I dated a political opposite at one point in college, a presidential candidate I supported actually won, and – like mentioned above – social media has seemed to change the ways I communicate.
When I was in a bit of a transition mode between maintaining a Xanga blog, my old Year in Sweden blog, and the WordPress blog that has become this blog, I wanted to switch gears a bit. At the time, WordPress blogs seemed far more flexible, but there seemed to be less of a community; I felt that I could generalize my writing, go back to my journalistic instincts, and document life rather than editorialize it (as I did on Xanga, where community interaction and privacy characterized the functionality). I worked on refining my opinions, if I were to introduce it quite plainly (as I did in pinpointing Hillary Clinton’s failures in 2008), all the while documenting my own experiences during the 2008 presidential campaign (as I did when Forest Whitaker visited my campus or when I participated in the caucus). This very slowly worked my less-articulate and more-personal (gossipy, even?) writings out of my blogging routine.
While by its definition, being “less political” doesn’t entirely equate with “apolitical,” I’ve noticed that, on a case-by-case basis, I’ve gone against my political tendencies. I’ve sacrificed my eagerness to debate for my desire to avoid conflict. I can’t say I’ve turned down all good opportunities to debate, but I can say that I’ve become better at picking my battles (unlike in high school, when I was notorious for taking up anyone at all willing to argue it out). Honestly, I think it’s made me a better writer and a calmer person, and it’s also made my friends who disagree politically a little less afraid to bring up the issues with me.
So will I blog about the 2012 election? Will we see my dormant Political Type resurface? I’m not so sure about that. There’s plenty out there to read when it comes to criticizing the Republican field or speculating on the President’s strategies. Could a headline or particular topic grab me enough to write something? I wouldn’t count that out completely. But now that social media has been established as a ‘must’ for candidates, I think we’ll learn more than ever about our political climate and the way social media users react to politics much in the way I learned about myself during the last few elections.