By Cathleen Armstrong
Is anyone but me counting the days until this election is over? (Nineteen till election day. Twenty until the blessed day after.) Passions are high, lines are drawn, and thanks to social media, everyone has a soapbox to stand on to offer their thoughts, opinions, and dire warnings. I open Facebook and find myself longing for a photo of someone’s dinner, a selfie taken at a ballgame, or even a cat video. Maybe especially a cat video. You know, normal stuff.
It’s not that I don’t have opinions myself. I do. I am a self-proclaimed political junkie. I have watched every debate–both primary and general–from both parties, and a few town-halls from the alternative parties. I watch interviews and read papers and sit in front of the news every night. I have opinions so well considered and thought out that, if I gave them, you would immediately say, “What? I never looked at it that way! Of course you’re right and I’m wrong! How could I have been so blind?” But you will never read one of these pearls of wisdom on any social media venue, and here’s why: I have readers, you see, and they friend me on Facebook, and they follow me on Twitter, and they read my blogs.
I made an unspoken promise to the first person who picked up my first book, Welcome to Last Chance and to every reader of every book I’ve written since then. “Stick with me,” I say, albeit silently, “And we’ll explore the little town of Last Chance, New Mexico together. We’ll get to know folks with flawed pasts and uncertain futures who love each other and who love God and who are lifted, carried, and redeemed by his grace every day of their lives. And you might laugh some and cry some while you’re at it.”
There is no political point I could make, however profound, that is worth breaking that promise. When my readers think of me, I want them to associate me with a town they’d love to find on the map, and people they feel they already know. My opinions, however astute, can make no difference in their lives; my books might. How could I ever risk alienating one reader over something so unimportant to them as who I think the next president should be?
I know others feel differently. They feel that expressing thoughts on the political situation is being true to who they are. What about you? Do you think political discourse on social media is just keeping it real, or, like me, best saved for face-to-face discussions with people who are contractually obligated to love you anyway?
Cathleen Armstrong lives in Southern California, though her roots are still deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives. She is the author of the series A Place to Call home, including Welcome to Last Chance, One More Last Chance, At Home in Last Chance, and Last Chance Hero.