DEAR HARRIETTE: What do you do if you find yourself in the middle of political discussions and you really don't want to talk about it? These days I feel like it's always something. The debate about police brutality is endless and highly volatile. And then there's the never-ending Cosby debacle. And terrorism all over the world. I get that bad and crazy things are happening, but when I am on a date or with friends, I don't necessarily want to debate the issues. I don't even want to talk about who may run for president, at least not all the time. How can I get my friends to chill and just be together or even to be serious and talk about themselves rather than the failures of everybody else? -- Stop the Noise, Detroit
DEAR STOP THE NOISE: Information overload is a real experience that is on the rise in this information age. Being on the pulse of current events is wise, but, as you point out, it should not require you to talk about everything that's in the cable news 24-hour rotation.
How can you curb the commentary? State your case. When you are hanging out with your friends and the conversation turns to a topic that you are not interested in discussing, ask them if they would be willing to change the subject. You can actually create a profound talking point by stating that you are more interested in how they are navigating their lives than what their opinions are on celebrity gossip or world violence. That may work sometimes.
You can choose to get up and leave the group for a moment, either going to the restroom or just removing yourself from their company for a bit. Ultimately, though, know that there is something good about being in the company of people who are paying attention to what's going on in the world. Rather than being frustrated by the discussion, work to push it in an enlightened direction.