Caroline Moss is an author and host of the podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It," which helps people find the products they need to make life easier, better and more productive. Now with this column, "Asking for a Friend," she's helping people with the advice they need to make life easier, better and more productive.
My husband is starting to get very into the election. He wants to talk about politics all the time, volunteer to campaign and work the polls, and have conversations with anyone who disagrees with him on Facebook (which then leads him to want to talk to me about how crazy it is that so-and-so disagrees with him on Facebook). I, on the other hand, am burnt out. This year has been crazy, not like I have to tell you that. And I’m tired. I already know who I’m voting for in November and I just want to cast my vote and nothing else. Mentally, I feel like that’s all I can handle. My husband thinks that I am acting privileged and not understanding what is at risk. I feel like I understand but it doesn’t mean I want to talk about it all the time. Any advice? Now I feel guilty on top of feeling tired.
Hey, I hear you. I’m exhausted too. And I know who I’m voting for, but I also understand where your husband is coming from. Things are bad right now. They’ve been bad. If you want change in the government, voting is a small but meaningful way to go about getting that change. We have to stay active in our own democracy.
THAT BEING SAID, I think there’s a subset of people (and it sounds like your husband may be in this category), who have convinced themselves that if they are not 100% engaged 100% of the time, they are a moral failure and the reason why their candidate will not win in November. They feel they have to read every tweet, watch every speech and engage in every Facebook conversation.
To this I say: Engage smarter, not harder. Is there a meaningful thing you can do, maybe just one task, that will help move the needle forward but doesn’t involve you fighting with a former high school classmate online? Maybe you commit to making 10 calls this weekend. Or maybe you donate money. Or maybe you identify one person in your immediate life who needs to be convinced that their vote counts. Pick one of these actions or something similar. Not all. You are engaged. But you’re not engaged 24/7. You can’t just throw up your hands and tell me you’re over it. That’s the privilege we’ve been talking so much about lately. But you also won’t truly make any progress for yourself or your candidate by reading 400 mind-numbing tweets from basement trolls. Engage smarter, not harder.
I also think it’s worth explaining this to your husband. He seems to be playing a fruitless game of whack-a-mole that will only make him tired, angry and feeling helpless. Perhaps you can engage him on picking a meaningful politics-related task you can accomplish together as a couple, and then urge him to put his phone down for a few hours each night (and no more Facebook).
Breathe in. Two months left. Smarter, not harder.