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Vote is over, can we be friends now?

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

A look around the political landscape today shows nothing much really remains of Tuesday's hoopla other than a small gathering around the water cooler, a little confetti and some dried mud slung during the political battles.

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And barring any lingering and slightly haunting recounts, that means we can all once again be friends -- no more amendments to vote on; simply amends to make.

Or can we?

The polls can take their tolls on some families, co-workers and friends... both real and Facebook ones.

And thanks to social networks, everybody has had their chance to speak political jibber-jabber on that big, virtual platform.

"It's annoying," said 18-year-old Max Prouty of Detroit Lakes. "I've never de-friended anybody over it -- I'm not that extreme -- but I can't wait for it to be over."

Prouty says his parents always taught him to keep his political views to himself, but not everybody agrees with his mom and dad. Some, to the surprise of many of their acquaintances, have been none too shy to express themselves.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 38 percent of social networking site users have discovered through their friends' postings that their political beliefs are different than they thought, and 18 percent have actually blocked or de-friended somebody because of their political posts.

But in politics, where one door closes, another opens, as the study also shows 16 percent of Facebook and Twitter users have "friended" or "followed" somebody new because of their political beliefs.

And the world turns.

"I've kept my mouth shut because I sell real estate and that would affect my business no matter what the angle," said Kayla Ulschmid of Detroit Lakes, who says she has felt comfortable sharing while at her other job at a local bar.

"People there tend to kind of shake it off more and it's not going to actually affect the business," she said.

And while most Americans tend to keep political poker faces at work, research by CareerBuilder shows that 34 percent are proud and at times, loud.

"You hear it in the office, but I try to tune it out because I don't want to get into a fight at work," said Detroit Lakes resident Brandy Schlauderaff. "I don't even want to get into it with my friends, either."

According to research, younger people are less likely to publicly bleed blue or red, as 21 percent of workers ages 18 to 24 share political opinions on at the job, while 36 percent of employees 35 and older do.

An election can even put strains on families who don't all agree on which candidates deserve their circles colored in.

"We're all pretty much Republicans in my family -- except for my stepdad," said William Dillon, as he and his son, Billy, took time out of their deer hunting to vote in Detroit Lakes.

"But you know, everybody gets to vote for who they want, and if he wants to vote for Obama, let him. The other 29 of us will cancel him out," he laughed.

And while there are those few die-hard citizens who love basking in the political process and rolling around in the mud, most are more than happy it's over.

Michelle England and her 11-year-old daughter are among them.

"My daughter was muting the commercials during the ads because they had just had a segment in their class about bullying, and she goes, 'I'll be so glad when this is all over and the adults get done bullying each other,'" England said.

"So it was interesting to hear from a child's perspective how she didn't want to even hear the attack ads because they aren't uplifting -- they get you down," she added.

Political candidates could take some notes from England, too, as she is a couples therapist trained to bring people back together -- an idea that can once again be entertained with the calming of the political storm.

She says exposing yourself to other points of views and actually trying to understand the other side of things is a big step in fighting fair so that at the end of the day, everybody remains respected friends.

"Your values run up against these emotions and that's when you quit hearing the other side," said England, "so just try to understand what's outside of your box and the reasons why."

And with that advice, may the angry political rhetoric begin to fade while estranged Facebook friends slowly fall in "like" all over again.

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