You know how this post is going to start right? You’re either ONE OF THEM, or ONE OF US!
Well … this may not be quite what you expect. I recently read this article at the HUFFINGTON POST written by Derek Powell nearly a year ago. He then made the claim that people who complain about political postings on Facebook are “part of a problem”. And the problem, he infers, is “complacency”. That’s right, back in February of 2016 he made the argument that people who criticize political postings are just too invested in the status quo.
I can’t help but to wonder how Derek feels about the subject today.
Less than a month after the election of a new President and newly forming cabinet, the tone and frequency of political posts (in my feed at least) have changed quite markedly since a year ago.
It has really been surprising to see certain people making some very strong accusations and insulting remarks about political opinions or policy decisions that are very heated and oppositional right now. Probably a good deal more so than in 2016.
Maybe it’s a sign of Constitutional freedom and Democracy that political debate is alive and well, uncensored and quite vigorous in America, even if it is a little bit messy.
But … I have to say … folks who post really mean and nasty things, almost daily, are a bit annoying whether you’re invested in the status quo or not.
To turn down the volume a bit, and think logically for a moment, it’s hard not to conclude that either these folks are 1) absolutely sure that every friend in their feed agrees with their political views, or 2) anybody that doesn’t agree deserves to hear the opposition to their beliefs. I mean … I’m trying hard to escape from that conclusion, but … there it is.
Politics does involve beliefs and values – just like religious, or cultural beliefs. And different people have different beliefs. And one would think people could respect each others beliefs within their own social network. Otherwise, I’m back to the paragraph above this one, scratching my head again.
We all know that people with like beliefs feel comfortable being together in a group. That’s why there are churches, synagogues, clubs, political groups, business associations, alumni organizations and so on. We know from the name and type of group we join what the group stands for, and what it does not.
I think it’s also quite important and socially beneficial if these groups can get along and respect each other (or if they can’t, at least stay out of each others way). Otherwise, we’ll have open confrontations between them – which we sometimes do. And when that happens, I don’t really condone the violence – which by the way usually starts with accusations. It escalates from there.
There ARE political forums on the web. They are a natural fit for political discussion. The audience there knows what to expect just like a person joining an organization does. A person joining Greenpeace does not expect to attend a meeting dominated by board members of British Petroleum. If that were to happen, I suspect the membership would quickly be canceled.
Likewise, when I joined Facebook, I did not plan to be bombarded with confrontational political rhetoric. If friends within our social networks cannot tolerate opposing views or beliefs, then I would suggest that they are limiting they’re social interaction to people who only think like they do.
We may be comfortable having only like-minded friends, but debate which reveals opposing points of view and different beliefs can be interesting and even enlightening. It certainly deserves to be approached respectfully and considerately on Facebook.
After all this IS our social network. I leave you with this quote:
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
― Audre Lorde