The Politics of Facebook

I’m not ashamed to admit that I love Facebook.  I first joined in 2008 to see what my kids were doing on there.  After I figured out that they weren’t joining any cults or plotting my demise, I started to enjoy it.  I post something almost everyday.  It has brought me in touch with many folks I’ve lost track of over the years.  I would never be able to catch up with all the people I know on FB.  Now, I’m up to speed on people who I knew well for many years, a lot of whom I’d forgotten.

I find social media superior to actual socializing in many ways.   I don’t have any way to keep up with this number of people on a daily basis.  I don’t hang out in bars or go to parties.  I don’t like talking on the phone.  Even if I did, I’d still only be in touch with a small number of people.  Social media doesn’t require awkward chit-chit, although I am very skilled at small talk.  I like looking at photos of people’s families but–unlike the slide show of days of yore–I can cut out when it gets dull.  There are also folks that post things that make me laugh.  I’m really big on laughter.  If you can make me laugh, you have a fan for life.

When I first joined FB, I was amazed at how quickly I could find folks I hadn’t seen in years.  We all enjoyed posting photos and updates on our current doings.  It was like a huge class/family reunion.  At the time, young people dominated it.  Over time, they’ve drifted away, just like with MySpace.  Now, it’s dominated by adults.  As such, of course, a lot of the fun has been wrung out of it.

Religion, dogs, cats, babies and random musings are all still very much present.  Oh, and don’t forget all the games.  Mafia Wars gave way to Farm Ville which has given way to City Ville and poker.  I don’t play any of those, that’s cool. Just don’t expect me to give you a cow or horse or something.  I don’t play.  Myself, I try to lighten the mood on FB.  Oh, and I brag about my kids, also a common FB topic.

As with all good things; however, there is a dark side.  The dark side, as in real life, is politics.  Today at lunch, out of curiosity, I scrolled down my wall and counted 26 posts about politics.  I’d say on a typical day the number approaches 100, far out-stripping dogs and religion–two other ubiquitous post topics.

Everything is political on FB–religion, contraception, medicine, the weather, gas prices, energy, war, peace.  Everything.  Except dogs.  Everyone loves dogs.

Facebook does a decent job of filtering out religious hate groups, so you’ll have to do some digging if you want to join a group bashing a religion.  On the other hand, if you want to wander into the political maelstrom, FB is your place.  Here are just a few of the Facebook groups awaiting you:

  • Republican Bigotry Hate Lies Fears and Distortion.
  • Republicans are Idiots and Arguing with them is a Waste of Time.
  • Obama Is A Dumbass.
  • Obama is A Disgrace to America.
  • Romney Is An Asshole
  • Obama Is Gay.
  • Obama Is So Stupid.
  • Obama Is A Llama.
  • Romney Is A Tool.
  • Romney Is An Animal Abuser.
  • Romney Is a Big Government RINO.
  • Democrats and Republicans are Destroying America.
  • Republicans are Morons.

These are all real.  If you don’t believe me, look them up.  These groups provide a veritable mother lode of material for you to post on YOUR wall, in case your friends don’t belong to the group.  For example, I’m not sure what Obama Is A Llama is about, but they probably have all kinds of good stuff about him being born in Africa.  You post enough of that stuff and people will believe it.  Seriously.

You can go to any of these groups and find incendiary and controversial things to post like these:

I could caption this: Projected welfare spending over the next 80 years and cause a monstrous debate.

You can post this with the comment: IF YOU DON’T WANT THIS FUTURE, VOTE FOR SOMEONE! Of course, I made up this graph and the statistics.  That’s insignificant.  I’m trying to make a point about something important.

Here’s another one I made up:

This chart is made up from whole cloth with no explanation of what it means. Yet, I assure you I could get many “likes” of it on FB.

This bit of total nonsense would be taken seriously and reposted by many.

Another favorite is to post a photo of a politician with an insulting and perhaps inaccurate caption, like this:

The President has never said this, as far as I know. That wouldn’t stop me from posting it.

Or, if your political bent is to the left:

The possibilities are endless.  Scroll down your wall on FB and see the many, many variations of this theme.  Doesn’t it influence your choice?  Oh, it doesn’t.  Welcome to the club, I suppose.

Now, please read the following:  I AM NOT TELLING YOU NOT TO POST SUCH THINGS.  I HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO DO SO.  Okay, let’s continue.  I just have a few helpful thoughts regarding this endless wallpapering.

NO ONE IS GOING TO CHANGE THEIR MIND

We all know that politics is like religion.  It can be fairly be thought of as religion’s stupid, obnoxious, deadbeat brother-in-law.  Like religion, people believe what they believe.  Let’s say you’re a communist.  God bless you, I say, although admittedly you may not be receptive to that.  As a believer in the collective nature of property and the state’s obligation to dispense resources, you won’t listen to my well-reasoned endorsement of capitalism.  Likewise, endless FB posts won’t change anyone’s mind.  They remind me of what I heard someone say of religion:  No one was ever shamed or screamed into church.  Same goes for your views.

Even if I were subject to being influenced, what would I believe?  Barack Obama is either a socialist, communist, anti-American, Kenyan Muslim whose sole goal in life is to destroy America and redistribute the wealth to illegal aliens and welfare mothers OR he’s a charming, brilliant, visionary who saved the country from destruction and will lead us into a new era of enlightenment.  What of Romney?  He’s an out of touch elitist who hates the poor, loves the rich, belongs to a religious cult, cheats on his taxes and wants to create a society of super-rich titans OR he’s a visionary businessman, who will cut everyone’s taxes and restore prosperity to every man, woman and child, as well as return American to its rightful place as the leader of the Free World.  Your posts confuse me.

BE PREPARED TO OFFEND

Remember, the more you talk about politics, the more likely you are to offend someone.  That someone might even be your friend.  We all know that some religions believe that you should proselytize, which means try to impose your views on others.  I suppose that politics works the same way.  If you think you can do that without offending people,you are sadly mistaken.  It’s long been recognized that politics and religion are two topics you should never bring up, unless you’re ready for a fight.

In my early days on FB, I had experience with this.  One of my “friends” posted a hateful post about Muslims, suggesting that they should all pack up and leave the U.S.  I commented that we are entitled to worship as we see fit or not at all.  I was told that America is a Christian nation and that if you don’t like that leave, suggesting that I probably need to leave, too.  Let’s just say that the discussion deteriorated from there.  I was “unfriended,” the harshest of all social media rebukes.

As far as I can tell, everyone on FB is either an evangelical Christian or an atheist.  Imagine that I start posting-multiple times a day–anti-Christian photos, jokes, etc.  I’m pretty sure my FB friends list would dwindle rapidly.  Why?  Because I would offend.  I’m surprised that the political posts don’t draw the same fire.

This is probably because that most of us accept political debate.  So, there must be a high level of tolerance for this stuff in social media, too.  But, if you do offend, don’t be surprised.  Now, understand that I am NOT offended. My friends-both on FB and in real life–run the gamut from left wingers who would gladly be Communists if it were still fashionable to ultra-right wing extremists who would have no problem with wearing a swastika were it not for the obvious associated stigma.  We get along fine.

MAKE YOUR POINT AND MOVE ON

I’m a bit of hypocrite on this point, because I post a lot on FB–probably enough to annoy most people.  I’m sure that a lot of my “friends” have blocked my posts.  If you’re one of them, to Hell with you, I say.  Where was I?  Oh, yeah, politics.

Here’s the deal:  Although politicians hold to the old standard of saying the same things over and over, I’m not sure it works in social media.  One or two posts a day on a particular topic

You don’t want to be accused of ranting.  Ranting is the act of lunatic.  If you’re a lunatic, no one will listen to you, unless they’re in the Tea Party.  (THAT’S A JOKE!  See how I like to lighten the mood?)

The biggest problem with repetition is that it’s just dull.  Who wants to hear the same things over and over and over?  Obviously, some people do, but most of us don’t.   One can be forgiven for being opinionated.  Boring is unforgivable.

WHAT’S MY POINT?

As usual, I don’t have one. I’m one of those odd people who don’t mind other people’s opinions, even if I disagree or they get ponderous.  People much smarter than I am have long observed that it’s hard to learn anything if one only listens to people with whom one agrees.  Whoever came up with that would love Facebook, because it’s not possible to go on your wall and not disagree with something.

I don’t discount the possibility that you don’t want me to agree with you.  Maybe you’re a pompous know it all.  That’s cool.  Maybe you hate people and need to vent.  That’s not so cool, but I understand.

I’m going to continue to post odd status updates, brag on my kids and post links to this blog.  You can continue trying to convince me to vote for someone.  It’s a free country, at least until one of those bastards wins.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

4 Comments

  1. I love this post! People and their politics already frustrate me a little, but the FB world takes it to a whole other level. I tend to stay away from people’s post with regard to religion or political viewpoints but I will definitely “like” a post that is positive and informative (e.g. a post on the difference Michelle Obama has made in elementary school exercise).

    On the flip side, if someone posts something hateful (like your Islam hating ‘friend’) I immediately unfriend them. There is no place for that in my life.

    We are all different (and that is great) but the unfiltered nature of negative political FB posts are simply unnecessary and, as you said, offensive to a least one person.

    Thanks for writing this! I wish that more people were aware of the effects (or lack thereof) of their posts.

  2. Clearly you’ve missed all the dog-related politics. Legislating of breeders, defining whether anyone who has an intact dog is a puppy miller, a group called PETA Kills Animals — it gets hairy out there.

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