Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Don't bother talking about politics in game...

...and certainly, under no circumstances, ever talk about politics on your blog, website, or podcast that is not specifically about politics!

I can't think of anything but American politics today (which is why you are getting this post instead of a gaming post), but I certainly am not going to even begin to give you even a tiny peek at what my positions might be.

Do not talk about politics with your guild. In, fact I would go so far as to warn other people to stop talking about politics if they bring it up.

Why? Because despite the fact that last night each presidential candidate encouraged reconciliation and unity in their respective speeches, it is still an incredibly divisive topic in America. It offers no benefit. You will never convince someone else to change their positions because of something you said in trade chat or even your guild's Ventrillo server. Especially if what you say is a talking point your opponents have already heard and dismissed from a more authoritative source than yourself. You will never make a new friend by expressing your political opinions. Anybody you agree strongly with is likely to already be your friend anyway for other reasons. So there is no actual benefit to making political statements in-game or even on your blog of podcast. It will never help you.

But it can and will hurt you. You immediately alienate those who disagree with you. You make it more difficult for even those that liked you before to stomach you now that they know you have such diametrically opposed beliefs. If you blog or podcast, you are willingly throwing away half of your audience.

And for what? So you can feel good about stating your opinions and pretending they matter to others? Deluding yourself into thinking you will sway them, or do anything other than drive them away?

As a quick example: I used to love listening to the podcast Taverncast. For a long while they were a WoW-focused podcast. But the cast all stopped playing the game, and switched over to a new, more free-floating format after a long hiatus. In the first episode of this new format, they somehow came to the topic of Universal Health Care. One of the members of the cast expressed a strong opinion that was the exact opposite of a very strong opinion I held. Hearing this person spout an opinion clearly based on misinformation and obvious biases rather than facts and logic made me angry. I wanted to argue with them, show them how they were wrong, etc. The opinion was, to me, so downright imbecilic that I couldn't respect that person anymore. I used to find them at least mildly entertaining, but I could no longer listen to content from someone who was so wrong about this issue. I could no longer be entertained by this person. I never listened to their podcast again. I know for a fact that I am not the only person who reacted this way.

For another example, look at the reaction to Tobold's recent post urging people to vote. You would have to try really hard to find anything clearly partisan in his statement. But he was eviscerated none the less.

You can express your opinion if you want. I'm not trying to supress anyone's freedom of speech. All I'm saying is that you may want to look at the pros/cons of expressing your political opinion in a non-political context. You may end up making a decision to keep your mouth shut that ends up benefiting you in the end.

Get over yourself. I understand the impulse to talk about politics. But don't do it. You have nothing to gain, and stand to lose a lot.

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