Five Ways to Avoid Political Fights on Facebook This Election Season

It's almost funny to look back now on those occasionally annoying e-mails we all got from relatives who liked to pass along rumors and popular myths that could easily be debunked using Snopes. When that happened, we could pretty much just ignore it or, if we were feeling a particular amount of gumption that day, we could pass along how, "Actually, no, Swiffer isn't dangerous for your pets."

Whatever the case, disposing of the detritus was as easy as hitting a delete key. With Facebook, it gets messier. On the one hand, none of us like seeing our Facebook news feed filled with crazy political talk -- particularly as we get closer to the presidential election. On the other hand, we can't just block everyone who posts something we don't like.

That often turns reasonable people into irrational hotheads, who are driven into fits of rage while posting responses to friends and relatives who disagree with them on healthcare reform, immigration or abortion. Fights you though you'd never have suddenly balloon into name-calling and threats, all because of a bunch of pixels floating around on a monitor.

Fortunately, there are some ways to prevent this from happening and keep your family meal at Thanksgiving from devolving into a shouting match over your cousin's Facebook status.

5. Avoid Facebook at critical times. I've said this before about Twitter. When there is some event dominating the news, unless you want to read about it over and over again, avoid social media. It's inevitable that you'll have to wade through death notices, especially when it is a celebrity or a nerd or, God help us, a nerd celebrity, but that's nothing compared to updates during a political convention or, even worse, the morning after.

4. Don't post anything political on your page. The best way to avoid problems is to not start them. When you post something on your page with a hint of controversy, there's a good chance someone will respond. Once they do, it's only a hop, skip and a jump to a full-blown fight. And don't tell them they are not allowed to disagree on your page. It will just make it worse. After all, you knew what you were getting yourself into. If you REALLY want to post controversial stuff, but don't want the argument... 3. Block comments on your page. This will prevent anyone from leaving comments on your page, your photos or your posts. It's drastic, but if you really want to let your politica-freak flag fly for all to see, keep the the arguments from starting before they begin. And while you're at it...

2. Do not engage in political comments on other pages. This might seem obvious, but even I've been drawn into comment-sparring matches by accident after going into a thread thinking I'd inject some humor or be the voice of reason only to end up acting like a jerk. It's too easy to be drawn in by others. Just avoid it.

1. Hide status updates from active politicos. Ultimately, this is the quickest and simplest way to rid yourself of unwanted political posts. Unsubscribe yourself from a friend's feed. You can do this and still remain friends with a person. They only way for them to find out you unsubscribed is if they look at their subscriber list and compare it to their friends list, which is something I can't imagine any normal person doing.

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