That person

We all know “that person” – the one with no filter, who jumps at the chance to share their opinions in mixed company, regardless of how unpopular those opinions might be.

Everyone knows someone like that. He’s the guy at a party who you avoid because he starts ranting about politics after a few too many beers. Or she’s the girl who posts terrible links on Facebook that make you cringe thinking people associate you with her. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but chances are, if you don’t know someone like that, you probably are “that person.”

Much as I would love to think we can all harmoniously agree to disagree, that isn’t happening. Everyone has their own views on notable subjects, using news sources and fake news links on-line and imaginary arguments they’ve won in the shower, to generate a perspective that they have cultivated over time and molded into their opinion. And when someone refutes that opinion, things get real, really fast. I’m not sure if it’s a matter of pride, or that there’s too much at stake on this planet in 2017 to back down from your personal convictions, or whether we can’t stay silent, or that we just plain don’t want to. But whatever the reason, there are few Kumbaya moments where intellectual conversations exist.

So in an effort to help you avoid confrontation or awkward social exchanges, I’ve prepared this handy guide to knowing which topics should remain off limits at your gathering until world affairs stabilize and people simmer down a bit.

First of all, don’t talk about Syrian refugees. There is always going to be someone at your party who is a vocal supporter of the refugee program and who wants desperately to make the rest of society understand the conflict new immigrants were facing at home and the countless contributions they will make to our country. Those in disagreement will scoff, then mock immigration proponents, before quoting numbers from the inaccurate “fact sheet” floating around on Facebook that breaks down the settlement allowance refugees get from the government. Some of your guests won’t care one way or the other and will be blasted for their indifference, and then everyone is having a terrible time. So it’s probably best if you stay away from the topic of Syrian refugees. Actually, you might as well avoid talking about immigration altogether.

Refuse to talk about Donald Trump. As I have quickly learned, there is no middle ground on this topic, and that person might be on either side of the issue. Maybe they’re pro-Donald, telling your guests how he’s a straight-talking Messiah who will save the world, or they could be the self-righteous know-it-all who can’t wait to tell everyone “I told you so” because they saw all this chaos coming. They could also be of the apocalyptic mindset, happily and loudly informing every guest that between Russian collusion and The Wall with Mexico, the world is doomed. Meanwhile, everyone waiting patiently (and silently) for 2020 is now uncomfortable and wants to leave your party. If you’re smart, you’ll declare the space a no-Trump zone before the appetizer is even served.

While you’re at it, you might as well also avoid talking about Justin Trudeau. While that person might see him as a progressive Liberal savior to Canada and argue that he’s the most effective Prime Minister since his father before him, others could also proclaim him a hippy-dippy, tree-hugging louse who has been on vacation for a year and just declared he only wants to work one day a week. There isn’t much middle ground with Mr. Trudeau. Not everyone is content with limiting their debate on him to whether he looks more like Aladdin or Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, so things are bound to get sticky before the party is over.

Resist all temptation to make small talk about the weather. It will start with someone commenting how cold and wintery it’s been this spring, then someone else will undoubtedly make a smart remark to the effect of “yeah, but I guess there’s supposed to be ‘global warming’, right?” Or quite possibly someone else will point out that 2016 was the hottest year on record and lecture everyone on how they’re destroying our planet one unrecycled bottle at a time. Either way, no one wants a science lesson when they’re trying to enjoy themselves.

I know what you’re thinking: but Gina, avoiding these topics and pretending they don’t need to be discussed is the very reason there’s so much misinformation and debate. While that may be true, at least consider that people are going to fight about all that stuff anyway.

So why ruin a perfectly pleasant party?