I made a pact with myself in November of 2008. That pact was to stay out of political discussion on Facebook in 2012. I didn’t keep my promise to myself in the first few months of 2012, but then I remembered the promise and why I made it and have made good on it since. Why just Facebook? Because my blog is my sounding board, and I should be able to post what I want, right? If you don’t like it, don’t read it. I can choose to engage in commenting on other people’s blog posts at my own risk. I never comment on articles as a general rule (WAY, WAY too many crazy people out there). And twitter, well, it is hard to get invested in a violent debate 140 characters at a time.
But Facebook? Here is the thing, people just get WAY too personal in the general election year. (And people get way too personal on Facebook as a standard rule.) For one, they stop talking about policies and start talking about people. And this year it is worse than ever. I think it is that people never really stopped talking about Obama personally. It’s been kind of amazing and fascinating (and infuriating) to watch. But there are people—scores of them who have erroneously named themselves after an event in history that doesn’t actually apply to their modern political agenda—who have landed on the side of hating Obama (a man they’ve surely never met and don’t know personally at all) so much that if he were to take his hand off of his heart to sneeze during the national anthem they would use that as evidence that he hates America (that’s never happened. that I know of.). That voice has been pretty loud over the last couple of years, so now that it is general election time again people are being even more outlandish about personal attacks on both Romney and Obama. And it is just not discourse that I care to be a part of. Because:
1) Whatever you feel about their policies these are both good men. They love their wives and kids, they are kind to others, and they have whole lives outside of the political arena that deserve a lot of accolade.
Americans talk about politicians and government as though they are the enemy, and they make politicians out to be nonhuman villains. Politicians are people and deserve any common courtesy that any person would. Now, I’ve been known to make a
2) Most of what is discussed in these attacks against presidential candidates during the general election have nothing to do with anything that really matters. WHY BOTHER? I like to discuss politics when people are actually discussing, you know, policies. What Obama believes about gay marriage is irrelevant since he, Biden, and just about everyone else believe that it should be a state decided issue. Discussing what he believes about gay marriage is about as purposeful as discussing what I believe about interspecies fish mating. And, for that matter, discussing whether or not a Romney is a Christian is a waste of time, since even if he weren’t he has every right to run for office. I wonder if these people who go on and on about this wonder how they sound to the non-Christian populations in American. (Hint: they sound like jerks.) Ya feel me?
The other thing is, getting personal about the presidential candidates during an election year isn’t the only problem. People get incredibly personal in political discussion as well. I was personally attacked on so many levels and by so many people in 2008. And there were some who just never forgave me after Obama won, and they continued to attack me every time politics came up until the relationships were just cut off. I am, admittedly, a bit gun shy. Because it hurts when someone paints you has a horrible person because they don’t agree with what you’re saying. I don’t require my friends to agree with me about everything. I don’t hold differences of opinion as personal affronts. I do require that my friends have the maturity (and non-center of the universe-ness) to maintain a positive relationship even when they realize you don’t hold the same world view. It sucks to find out the hard way that this requirement is not being met.
I LOVE discussing politics. I love a good, healthy debate about the issues. What I DON’T love is someone who claims they are interested in hearing another’s point of view, but what they are really interested in is others hearing THEIR point of view and why it’s better. A tell tale sign of this person is when they must have the last word in every conversation, and they have to take every opportunity they can to make sure you know they disagree with you. Those conversations can be really frustrating because you think the person came to the table to hear you, and all you get in return is an agenda. I think I recognize this type of person because I have the same tendencies. But, I’ve gained the self awareness to know that when I come across these people, the best thing for me to do is stop engaging them in political conversation (or perhaps in any meaningful conversation where a disagreement might happen) so that I don’t hit the downward spiral.
Anyway, that is why I’m staying out of political discussion on Facebook for the rest of the year (maybe forever). And I’ve been hesitant to post anything political because my blog automatically posts to my Facebook via twitterfeed.com. I didn’t want to stop that from happening because I post about other things (sometimes) too. But this morning I finally decided to go in and just delete the automatic feed. And that is when I discovered there is a FILTER, and you can tell it not to post certain posts based on keywords.
Bring it, y’all.