Sep 08

Facebook and Politics

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Periodically, but during the voting season in particular, some friends will post, “I wish there was a hide political rant” button, or they’ll post a snarky image about politics and Facebook.

I really enjoy your poltical Facebook posts, said no one ever. - Some Cards

They very well may be right.

It’s easy to imagine sophisticated people sitting around a table at a dinner party exchanging political witticisms (“Well said ol’ chap! >glass raised in respectful salute<) but I imagine that’s a rare thing indeed.

No, sadly, talk of politics and religion so often involve gnashing of teeth and flinging of mud that sensible people steer clear of the subject when socializing.

In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

– George Orwell

But yet, I’m guilty of talking politics (and to a lesser extent, the even more sensitive sister: religion.)

Here is what I like to tell myself: I do it because I believe successful governance requires an informed populace and a free exchange of ideas. I do it because I wish people were as passionate about ideas as they are about the latest football game.  I do it because I think the risk of offense is less onerous to our society than the risk of ignorance.

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.

– Pericles

Now, that isn’t to mean that I think I’m the purveyor of great insights and wisdom… No scratch that. – I do think think that. – And so do those who old opposition to my thoughts.  But I know enough to know that I’m not always right. And although we humans are resistant to new ideas and shedding old ones, I like to fancy that it happens from time to time and that we might actually grow in our understanding on occasion.

But I guess I could get my political input elsewhere… I could read professional articles and and pundits; no need to do it on Facebook.

Perhaps it comes down to two ideas; the first being: one of my favorite things about the internet is that it gives us all soap boxes to stand on. It democratizes the voice of the masses.

Walking downtown one day, several years ago, with my friend Teddy Carroll, we passed by a man on the street bleating political rants that neither of us agreed. Teddy made the comment that he liked that. – It reminded him of some old shaman on the streets of ancient Rome ranting. I agree: there is something pleasurable about free speech – even if you disagree with it. – Perhaps, particularly if you disagree with it.

The second reason isn’t as noble: it’s because I grow weary of the banality of Facebook. I love a good, cute, animal photo as much as the next person; I’ve been guilty of sharing dull photos of my lunch on occasion and have contributed my fair share of forgettable posts. But Jiminy Cricket! – Sometimes I yearn for for a little spice! It doesn’t have to be politics either; I just want to read something meaningful; something a little less ordinary once in a while.

So, I ask forbearance to my friends who can’t stand politics. – Hell, I’m not even always in the mood for it! (I’ve certainly banged my head on the keyboard in frustration and weariness on occasion.) And if there was an ability to tag posts with a term like ‘politics’ or ‘rant’ that you could filter out, I’d do it. Worse case: if you still want to stay connected (I hope that you do), just follow my professional Facebook account: it is political rant free.

Now having conceding to my culpability at being a rabble-rouser I leave you with this higher-minded thought:

Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.

– Dwight D. Eisenhower

3 comments

  1. I’m not always comfortable conveying my political (and religious) view/opinions. However, tis the political season. On FB, I’m more apt to “like” a political post than “share” it. I enjoy reading all of the truths/fibs from both sides. And I think you and me Mr. Green will just have to agree to disagree during the next several weeks!

  2. Glen,
    I couldn’t agree more. As a matter of fact, many of the points you make are similar (some exactly the same…like the Pericles quote) as the points I make in my Political Communication course this semester.

    So…rant on! Stimulate critical thinking…explore new ideas….listen, agree, disagree, and participate fully in the democratic process of open discourse!

    By the way, hope you don’t mind if I have my students read this post?

    Linda Schifino

  3. Hi Linda,

    By all means: I’d be flattered to have your students read the post.

    Cheers,
    Glen

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