Rules of Engagement on Social Media, 2016 Political Edition

I've been thinking a lot about how and when to engage on social media (and IRL for that matter) with friends, real and virtual, over political issues in this toxic climate. Democracy requires engagement, but maintaining sanity is also important. Here are my personal guidelines.
  1. Listen first and try to understand.
  2. Don't engage with someone who isn't open to civil conversation.
    Avoid trolls
  3. Some things are never acceptable.
    For me, racism, sexism, homophobia, among other things. If a person is trenchant and unapologetic in these beliefs, unfollow. No one needs to voluntarily allow this in their social media feed. But, if you can handle calling this out, then do so, because we have to do this important work too. I make this judgment based on many factors, such as my degree of separation from the person, if they are a straight up troll, whether they are aware of what they've said/implied, etc.
  4. Be respectful in dialogue, always, even when that respect is not returned.
  5. Educate yourself first.
    Your argument is much more effective when you can stand on your facts.
  6. Don't be afraid to promote the issues you feel strongly about.
    Ok, this is my personal struggle. I anticipate the responses I will get, from both the left and right of me, of anything I might say, and then chicken out and say nothing. I shouldn't do this.
  7. Stay substantive.
    Many times I just want to rail against another person's wrongheaded opinions. This isn't worth it. Unless I have something valuable (fact based, level headed dialogue), I just listen/read/try to understand.