A Little Something I Wrote on Facebook Earlier Today

On my private account (i.e., the one I use for people I actually know in real life), not my public page:

The closer we get to the election the more I am reminded just how incredibly awful Facebook is for communicating complex and in-depth political thought, and yet how perfect it is for reducing the political thoughts one has to the level of hollering for one’s favorite sports teams.

I would never tell anyone not to express a political opinion, here or elsewhere; I might ask you, however, to consider whether the opinion you’re expressing here is functionality equivalent to waving a pom-pom, and how much pom-pom waving is actually necessary for you to do, or for me to see.

I made a decision when I made this personal account to keep it politics free, because I find Facebook woefully inadequate as a vehicle for either deep thought or useful discussion, and besides I have a blog for that stuff. I also avoid getting into political discussions here for the same reason. It makes my time on Facebook much less stressful.

This is a personal choice, and I neither expect or desire for anyone to use Facebook just like I do, unless they have come to the same conclusions as I have. That said, if the large majority of political pom-pom waving disappeared from my Facebook thread tomorrow, replaced by pictures of friends, updates on their lives, and witty comments about everything but politics, well, let’s just say I would not be upset in the slightest.

It’s entirely true that on Facebook I avoid talking politics, not only because it is (as noted) just a horribly bad medium for it, but also because most of the people who are on that private facebook account are people who I have known for years, including family and friends going back all the way to elementary school. The idea of arguing politics with most of those good folks just makes me feel tired, very much like one feels tired when your uncle, after glass four of wine, starts talking conspiracy theories at Thanksgiving. It’s, like, hey, Uncle Ed, we love you, but could you just shut the hell up on the subject for six friggin’ hours, would ya? And then we can all have pie in peace for once.

When I’m on Facebook, I want to see pictures of my friends’ kids and their pets and hear how their day went. Facebook is really good with that. When I want to talk politics, this is where I do it. Because this place is really good for that.

Twitter I just use to be a goofball. This is not news, I suppose.

60 thoughts on “A Little Something I Wrote on Facebook Earlier Today

  1. Yes, but you’re lucky in this regard: You have an audience here. Most people have to go to Facebook for their audience, because they don’t have thousands of people willing to debate politics with them on their own website. So Facebook, however inadequate, is all they’ve got.

  2. As Pathar said above, you are lucky to have a large audience. My medical blog is visited by about 10 people each day. I have 600 Facebook friends. There is no comparison when it comes to getting a message heard, if you have a message to give.

  3. John –

    Have you thought of using Path for those interactions? I don’t use it myself and it has the issue of ‘but the people are on Facebook…’ but from talking friends who do use it, it seems to be remarkably free from topical posts and more focused on what people are doing in their lives. Not sure if that’s a result of what the service design steers people toward or if it’s just sample bias, but…

  4. I get frustrated talking politics on Facebook. I’d made an effort for 3 years to try and be “the voice of reason” on Tea Party Threads, quoting the U.S. Constitution, and on Liberal Democratic threads, quoting papers on Mathematical Economics. In both cases, some people thanked me for knocking down straw man arguments. Others used the most vile obscenities that their tiny minds could produce. My Republican friends are sure I’m some isotope of Republican. My Democratic party friends are sure I’m some isomer of Democrat. My Socialist friends think I’m some sort of Socialist. My Anarchist friends think I’m some sort of Anarchist. They all have something of value to say. None seem willing to admit that their party or movement is obsolete, and has already betrayed its core constituency. Yet I refuse to give up. Political discourse is essential for freedom.

  5. I agree with Pathar in this as well as you. I try really hard not to do (much) politicking on FB but sometimes I see or read something that just makes really angry and feel like I must respond even if it’s just a ‘What a load of crap’ kind of thing. I try and mostly succceed, but not always…

  6. rickg17:

    I’m not sure why I need yet another place to be on. Beyond that, I’m not looking for a solution, I’m pointing out how I use Facebook and why.

    pathar, SeussMD:

    The fact that Facebook is the only place other people have an audience is neither here nor there regarding whether it is a terrible medium for talking about politics, however.

  7. There is no “like” button for this thought (and, yes, I realize you have covered this, John), but I share your sentiments and applaud them.

    And thanks for the cats and sunsets and family pictures on Whatever. It’s like bringing some of the nice parts of Facebook to the blog.

  8. I think more people need to talk to other people, that’s why they facebook vomit so much because they feel like they have nobody to talk to, especially about things that get them riled like politics. I figure if people sat down and had good old fashioned political debates with their friends/family or whoever we wouldn’t have to read all the political ra ra on facebook. I like the idea of being able to hide political posts/pictures etc that Mark suggested

  9. In my experience, FB is decidedly NOT ideal for deep discussion, whether political, religious, philosophical, or what-have-you… Nor do I find it useful for expounding upon a Deep Subject of any kind.

    Huzzah! to Mister Scalzi for helping to spread the word – Cute kitteh pictures, updates about great-nephew Theodoric’s progress in barber school, and the occasional link to a funny article from The Onion or Cracked? Yes! Debate and discussion on likely-divisive topics? NO!

  10. If you can’t find a spot on the Interwebs, other than Facebook, to discuss politics, then you’re just not looking.

  11. Slight rejoinder to your “Facebook is bad for politics” thought: It’s useful to know that people hold different political opinions AND are still real people.

    I mean, going to a site and yelling about how Obama does X or Romney does Y or Zuul does Z doesn’t really advance things. Why should anyone care what you have to say? Why should you care what they have to say?

    But knowing that my cousin, whom I love and respect (for the sake of this argument), has a different feeling about A, B, and C–that helps remind me that politics is not an end-all-be-all of my relationship with cuz, or with any American. Anecdote to follow.

  12. Before the 2008 election, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to vote for ___, so I started browsing the discussions at _______, a ____-wing website for uncovering bias in the news. (I don’t know why I chose that site; I was new to the whole political internets.) Eventually, people started using arguments and citing facts that I couldn’t let go unchallenged. (Insert appropriate XKCD comic here.) So I started arguing with them, which didn’t change anyone’s mind but hopefully helped clarify issues.

    Well, that’s the nice way to look at things. The sad and more true way to look at things is that they thought I was an idiotic ____-supporter and I thought they were so blinded by ideology that they couldn’t get past the rhythms of beating their chests in aggression and whining about how they were the victimized underdogs. It wasn’t helpful, it didn’t change minds, it didn’t even make us consider each other as human beings.

    Except, very occasionally, we got to talking about some topic that we shared, like what movies and tv shows and books we liked. And there would be people who I would seethe at one moment–and then discuss weekend plans to see the new movie the next moment. I couldn’t tell you if it worked this way for anyone else, but though I never agreed politically with them, it was easier to think of the opposition as human.

    And that’s why I think some political discussion–even a statement of political beliefs–on Facebook may be useful.

    (Fill-ins: McCain, Newsbusters, right, Obama.)

  13. Frankly, I think the only purposes served by twitter are: a) being a goofball, and b) obtaining a large number of really random opinions on strange topics in short order.

  14. sistercoyote: it’s also a fantastic place to get ideas if you’re starting up a band and need a name. fan-TASTIC.

  15. Well said. I would rather have my feed clogged with Farmville requests (that’s still a thing, right?) than with political posts from either side of the aisle. My Facebook page is where I share kid pictures and the occasional song I like. It’s pretty easy to find places to talk about politics or religion on the internet. Facebook is my internet oasis – where I can just enjoy interacting with family and old friends and catching up on their lives.

  16. “The fact that Facebook is the only place other people have an audience is neither here nor there regarding whether it is a terrible medium for talking about politics, however.”

    I doubt that they care. It’s what they have. Nor do they need thousands, hundreds, or even tens of followers. The ranters only need to stir up one person to a state of interaction and it fuels them indefinitely.

  17. I actually left Facebook precisely because I was tired of getting sucked into arguments about politics and religion with the conservative friends of my various acquaintances.

    Twitter is even worse for touchy debates with immediate relatives. Trust me on this one.

  18. I’m starting to come to the conclusion that any kind of turn-based form of communication (half-duplex as opposed to simultaneous voice-to-voice full-duplex) is bad for anything that has a lot of emotional charge to it.

  19. Very well put! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Since I can’t say it any better, I will share it to my personal facebook page. But will the pom-pom wavers I would love to have read it actually do so? What to you think?

  20. I don’t have a lot of Facebook friends with political opinions significantly different from mine, but let me tell you, the one I’m “hiding” now is just about as progressive as I am and is currently only posting stuff about USC football, or trite-bordering-on-hysterical ready-made liberal political memes. It’s enough to make my teeth itch. It’s so choir-preachy and ridiculous. She has a couple of conservative friends who then counter her IdentiLib gifs with ConservaBot “facts” and she thinks she’s hosting some sort of conversation between the sides. Look, this election has reached the Cake or Death phase; the parties could be no further apart if they tried and for most of us the choice is clear and no amount of reasoning or inspirational un-fact-checked glurge is going to change our minds. Please. If I’m keeping up with you on Facebook, it’s because I’d like to see what you’re up to. I never thought I’d be nostalgic for vast swaths of seemingly identical baby pictures

  21. With risk of sounding like one of those late night infomercial/badly written spam emails… I stumbled across this article – posted by a friend on Facebook, no less – titled “How to Block Annoying Political Posts on Facebook” over at Lifehacker (http://bit.ly/NeQMM4). I haven’t installed it yet, but the friend who posted it (and he is someone I know well) says it has been working wonderfully for him. After a recent bout of political vitriol that actually caused me to unfriend two people, I may just install this tonight. I think it could save me oh so much irritation, stress and upset.

  22. I don’t have much problem with political stuff on Facebook if someone posts a political thing and people comment on that thing.

    If I post a picture of my dog and someone replies with “Romney put his dog on the car roof” or “Obama eats dogs” that is when a rocket launcher is required.

  23. Wonder what would be an example of a non-awful forum for ” communicating complex and in-depth political thought”? (-:

  24. What it turned out FB was a good medium for was getting me to take a political survey that informed me I supported a candidate I’d never heard of, which was promptly followed by intense research and activism. And hey look, I’m a member of a new party!

  25. Hmmmm… I agree about the lack of suitability of the medium, but my politics *are* personal – so when I post about them on Facebook, I’m letting people into my private life. I’m usually rejoicing over a marriage equality vote, or a court ruling, or some such step forward. People sometimes (rarely) want to argue about the things I post, which is fine, but that’s not why I do it. LGBT politics are part of the air I breathe, and every movement forward is something to celebrate and share with my friends.

    And the backward moves, the horrific things? I talk about those too. Because they matter in my life.

    This isn’t specifically partisan politics, and it’s not particularly dumbed-down, most of the time. I don’t just hit “share” on every pithy graphic. I’m not shouting about who to vote for, and I’m annoyed when people do. But a lot of politics *is* personal, and I use Facebook to share my personal life with friends and family. Those who don’t like it tend to ignore those posts, or even unfriend me. Which is fine.

    I also share pictures of my cats and new haircuts. :)

  26. I think maybe part of the divide here is who you are posting for. If you are posting for others’ enjoyment, then you have to think about whether or not political statements are going to be irritating to them or welcome. If you are posting for you and you alone and don’t care how people feel about your posts, then you don’t have to think about that.

    Personally, it seems to me like the point of facebook is to post things for other people to enjoy. It’s not a personal journal. So for me, staying away from contributing to the flood of politically charged soundbites running around facebook makes sense. A lot of people disagree with that position, obviously.

  27. Saw a friend Facebook today noting the following: “We Americans are interesting. Several months ago we all were told to praise social media for its role in freeing people from unresponsive governments. Lots of folks bought into that story line. Now that we’re finally into our own election season, we’re being told that it’s rude and/or ineffective to use social media to advance our own governance. Lots of folks are buying into this story line as well. Go figure.”

  28. I find FB mundane. Pedantic, even. Not that it not ok that others don’t, but I grew weary of it very quickly. Especially after I left and said get lost to it but it wouldn’t stop telling people I was out there. and ready to be contacted. Sheesh!

  29. I agree that Facebook is a place for trifling discussions and superficial interactions. Most of what Jaron Lanier wrote two years ago (review at http://goo.gl/3yH5T) still colors my perception of that site. It’s never going to fully replace LiveJournal for in-depth discussion–and let’s be honest, back when LJ was hot, there were plenty of flamewars going on in people’s journals and communities–but Facebook is where the people meet these days. Unfortunately, any sort of in-depth discussion is ill-suited for that site, no matter how hard people try. I still want to applaud the effort, but I often cringe at the results. In short, I appreciate the concept of political discussion on Facebook more than its actual existence.

  30. Politics, religion, sexual preference, and operating systems. Four topics you generally want to stay away from unless you’re flameproof.

  31. What tessuraea said above.

    Not that our kind host has said or implied that he feels this way, but I do find that a lot of people who want to hear less about politics are people for whom it’s an abstract; not something likely to critically affect how they go through their day-to-day lives. They are people for whom how they vote comes down to matters of general policy, not survival.

    As a woman, this election is critical to my right to reproductive health care. As a person with a chronic illness, it’s critical to my right not to be denied insurance. As a queer person, it’s critical to whether I can be fired from a job for who I am. My health and my livelihood ARE things that matter about my life, and thus the politics that surround those things matter, too.

    So, when someone tells me to stop talking about politics, they’re telling me to stop being female, to stop being sick, to stop being queer. And frankly? That’s kind of irritating.

    Now, that said …

    There is a point about how the echo chamber can be deafening at times. I finally got tired of having to censor myself on FB for fear of provoking conservative family members and friends, so I unfriended them. This has the benefit of making me feel more free to be myself, politics included, but it also means that everyone I still have friended already knows what’s at stake in this election, and will vote accordingly. Bar encouragement to actually get out and do so, political campaigning posts aren’t likely to be useful among these like-minded folks. So, with the exception of the occasional bit of venting for which I need support, I don’t do the chain-sharing or other hardcore politicking that some may do.

    But of course, though I’ve excised the haters from my life, these other folks may still be in touch with people who need to hear and see what they’re posting, in the hopes that they might change some minds. And for that reason, I don’t mind. I have this delightful little thing on my mouse called a scroll wheel, and I’m an expert at using it.

  32. That’s exactly how my husband characterizes it – fans of opposing sports teams going after one another. Our team’s the best! Your team sucks! Surely no one is posting political stuff on Facebook thinking they are converting someone to their side? It is not the place for thoughtful discussion – speaking person is barely the place for thoughtful discussion! Plus, believing that your side’s source for information about the other side is the most honest and truthful is a wee bit misguided at best. I would no more believe what Apple tells us about Samsung or Whole Foods says about Trader Joe’s than what a right-leaning media source would say about a Democrat and vice versa.

  33. I mostly agree, John–I don’t actually have very many friends on the other side on Facebook, so find myself not getting pulled into very many high-temperature political debates. But I think A Mediated Life & tessurea raise important points; for this election, the difference for my friend Brian is whether or not he has a President who supports his right to get married or one who strongly opposes it–one who can veto anti-gay bills vs. one who might well sign them. I can still get married regardless of who wins, but something tells me a Romney Justice Dept. won’t be filing friend-of-the-court briefs to strike down Prop 8 any time soon. Or ever.

  34. I think of my self as a person who is open to both sides and not someone who is highly opinionated. That said GO OBAMA!!!!!!!!!! DEMOCRATS ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! REPUBLITARDS all eat out of the LITTER BOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FOX NEWS IS THE LITTER BOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ROMNEY IS THE CAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Not that there is anything wrong with being a Republican. I know some Republicans who are almost as good as real people.

  35. For a long time I never really looked at FB. I joined specifically to see one person’s photos. Then I started to add some friends. Now, I read my feed, but rarely post about myself. One thing that has been very clear to me this political season is that I censor my comments to political posts by others. Why because some of my “friends” will be so offended by my comments or even by the fact that I associate with certain groups that I hesitate to give them a reason to discover my true political views. This is not new for these people, but FB means I am back to actively censoring myself, rather than just avoiding certain subjects. That said, 90% of the political stuff I see on FB is “my guy is good” or “their guy is bad”. Not really a discussion.

  36. I totally understand the “can we please talk about something else” urge on FB. But FB or no, I believe that a lot of folks have this sense that we were once good and pure and true in how we talked about politics, and that now is particularly rancorous. I think that, yeah, tensions are high, people are terrible. But that the United States has really never talked about politics in a rational and restrained way; we are hoping for some non-existant Victorian bygone era through glasses smoked by wishfulness and dreams.

    I mean, we fought a war of independence over taxes. Then there’s Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, some guy smashing his cane over a Senator’s head in the lead-up to the Civil War, Tammany Hall, a million scandals and betrayals of ideals. We aren’t a polite people. It’s not our strong suit.
    And yet we keep on chugging, occasionally making really, really mind-bendingly poorly thought out (and sometimes downright evil) public policy decisions. It’s good that people are talking and engaged. I just wish that they realized that people have ALWAYS been terrible–and saint-like, often in the same person. Sometimes five minutes apart.

  37. I can compare my frustration in discussing politics on Facebook with other subjects I frequently converse about on that social network. I’ve found Facebook quite useful in beta-testing fiction, as I’ve posted most of the 1,714,900 words of fiction I’ve written since 6 July 2010 (14 novels, a couple of dozen short stories novelettes, and novellas) and gotten very useful feedback for rewrite before sending works to major markets, several of which have sold, including to anthologies I only heard about on Facebook.

    I post a great deal of Mathematics, and have had interesting conversations, including from people who do NOT know math, but are entertained by the surrealistic language and/or my wry comments.

    I post several Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, Physics, or Sociology articles each day, and have had what I consider quite enlightening discussions. With one exception: a literally brain damaged man who has been driving everyone up a wall for a full year by stubborn refusal to learn to difference between MASS and WEIGHT. I’m tempted to use him as a character. A nominal adult, albeit recovering from a horrific car crash, who cannot grasp what I’ve easily taught to 7th graders in African-American slums and Hispanic barrios, even when a dozen others jumped in to try and help, including a famous ex-professor who is now a science editor for the New York Times.

    I guess that the folks arguing past each other in pseudo-debates about Politics are annoying in that way. My maxim is “anyone can learn” — and my 3,000 to 5,000 students so far support my contention. But one man, or maybe a time traveler or extraterrestrial attempting to make me give up Physics and thus fail to invent the star drive, eventually had to be unfriended. Of 5,000 Facebook friends, I’ve only had to unfriend two. The MASS/WEIGHT lunatic, and someone who admitted being on crystal meth who made a FAKE fan page about me, but with my name intentionally misspelled.

    Politics tempts a lot of folks to unfriending fervor on Facebook.

    Do the math.

  38. For better or for worse, posting about my life, my family, and my cats is political. My gender, my race, my relationship, and my sexuality are political football. I choose to embrace that. As long as I’m going to be used to advance someone else’s agenda, I might as well speak up about how that makes me feel, and how it affects my life.

  39. I’ll have you know my hollering for my favorite sports team is far more complex and in-depth than my political thoughts. I only vent the former on FB, and I’m sure that still gets people to unsubscribe from me.

  40. I’ve had some genuinely good discussions on Facebook about politics, particularly with people whose opinions on subjects are divergent from my own, but these cases have been extreme exceptions. I try to stay out of it anymore–particularly recently, while all the presidential campaigning has been going on. So exhausting.

  41. TIP-I-CAL liberal! trying to stifle free speech. You just can’t stand that we are going to crush your commie, soshalist savior this fall! Next you’ll want to ban guns on Facebook & then make me bow to Mecca wont you? You have no respect for the constitution what so ever – ever hear of the first amendment smart ass?

    I am so trying to be the first to get that cool new MoLC!

  42. A Mediated Life:

    “I do find that a lot of people who want to hear less about politics are people for whom it’s an abstract; not something likely to critically affect how they go through their day-to-day lives.”

    This may be true in your experience, but it doesn’t mesh with my own. My work is related to a hot-button political issue, and I am volunteering 4-5 times a week for a presidential campaign. Politics is my life, at least for the time being. And I am so tired of politics on Facebook. John is right, the format is ill-suited to the topic. I’ve blocked people I like, whose politics I share, because they post nothing but links to political stories and photos with snappy political one-liners. In my experience, the people posting endlessly about politics on FB don’t tend to be doing anything about it, except posting on FB. If they have that much time for politics I wish they would spend an hour phone banking.

    I guess I’m a hypocrite because I also post about politics — if I didn’t I wouldn’t have much to talk about — but I try to post things that are relevant to what I’m doing. Like “I knocked on X number of doors today” or “woo hoo, I got a ticket to so-and-so’s speech” or whatever. I almost never share political links or photos. And I have also told my FB friends I won’t be offended if they block me until after the election.

  43. A few weeks ago, my husband unfriended a small number of folks on FB from both ends of the political spectrum, largely because it seemed like their only posts were of “the other side is Evil!!!” variety. FB has proved much more enjoyable for us since then. ( I use Live Journal & Twitter, but reading his FB page allows me to keep up with some of our friends who don’t post elsewhere.)

    Now that the campaign season is in full swing,I reach for the tv remote and hit the mute button, regardless of which side approved the political ads.

  44. I seldom post something political on my private (or even my public) feed simply because nothing really important can be said in that short amount of space. It amounts to a political ad, and, fairly or not, I consider all political ads to be 100% bullshit, particularly when they end with ” is responsible for the content of this ad.”

    However, on my private feed, I said, “I”m so glad there’s a hide button to get rid of the political posts. I don’t have to unfriend anyone, but I don’t have to read this stuff, either.”

    The conservatives got all riled up and whined, but most of them are still my friends.

    The only one I unfriended was a liberal who was every bit as self-righteous and pompous as the average conservative talk show host. In fact, one of HIS comments was outright bigoted.

    Bottom line: If your philosophy is that the other side is the problem, you’re the problem.

  45. Our family are taking a month off heavy machine usage. This (most definitely) includes xbox, general PC/iMac usage, and most recreational usage of iPods and iPads. We’re checking email, but both my wife and I have de-activated our FB accounts. While the cold turkey aspect is there, I have to say it is somewhat refreshing. I’m getting more sleep, reading more (off the iPad too via Kindle, Google Play & iBook apps, but we consider that better than worse), and getting more time to think things through even.

    I point this out because FB really is an expression of the immersion of machine media. It epitomizes it. Deactivating my FB account for the month felt like a monkey being taken off my back. Now, I’m as much a child of technology as the next geek, but it’s nice to get that space back in ones life again.

    The interesting thing will be to see how our 12 year old son responds to this deprivation over the month to follow.

  46. A Mediated Life and mintwich and I seem to share a particular perspective that doesn’t quite mesh with our host’s, but doesn’t directly conflict either. I’m finding it fascinating. I feel like the way I use Facebook probably wouldn’t prompt this sort of response in non-election-season. Right now, there are a ton of things flying around, some of them pretty awful. But even now, I’m frequently grateful for them – FB is often how I find out about news articles or occurrences I wouldn’t heard about otherwise.

    I suppose it’s literally a difference in how we use that forum. It’s absolutely true that it’s not a great one for in-depth discussion; it’s just as true, though, that if I stop talking about political things, I’ve stopped talking about things that really, really matter in my everyday life.

    Like A Mediated Life, I do have the echo-chamber effect; my general queering (and feministing) of my facebook feed means nearly everyone who dislikes those things hid my posts ages ago. So there are few people who hold radically different opinions that I interact with there. I’m all right with that, for the most part; I get plenty of interaction with people who think I’m a threat to society in other venues, both online and offline. Facebook is for keeping in touch with distant friends and family, mostly; and if they don’t want to keep in touch with queer political me, they don’t have to. But I’m not going to radically censor my life to keep them comfortable. Well, I lie, yes I am. It’s just that even my radically censored life is queer and political and somewhat uncomfortable for some people. :P

  47. eviljwinter: If your philosophy is that the other side is the problem, you’re the problem.

    I’m so glad I had my cognitive dissonance dampners installed when they did my snow tires.

  48. my take on this is someone on John’s friend list tried to send him lots of political posts…. well former friend, since I am guessing he got the dreaded ‘de-friend’. The filter on that site for what friends send you is not very good. Its just a big list. (I rarely use facebook so if there is a way to filter this stuff I wouldn’t know).

    there was a guy who runs a pizza parlor in Florida who hugged Obama when he came for a campaign visit. His yelp page for his business has a vast number of 1 star reviews from people who just signed up cause they are mad he hugged Obama. John’s post reminded me of that for some reason. A one line post of ‘libs suck’ one star review for you. Is somewhat similiar.

  49. I disagree that FB can’t be a place for substantive discussion. Especially now that they’ve stopped character-limiting status updates, there’s every opportunity to write something thoughtful–and to post equally thoughtful comments on others’ posts–if the people involved are so inclined.

    Now Twitter? Different story. It’s much too short and fast-paced for anything beyond sound-bite discussion. But, as with most other means of communication, FB is what you make of it. Someone whose sole involvement in politics is sharing memes isn’t going to magically become more thoughtful just by having a different venue in which to share her memes.

    What that means, therefore, is that any offensive political noise on one’s FB feed is a failing of one’s ability to curate acquaintances. While I get that some people feel compelled to still be friended with people who can’t conduct their political lives sensibly, one can at least choose to modify what one sees on one’s news feed (or, do what I do and use lists) to improve the signal-to-noise ratio.

    (On a similar note: this all reminds me of the recent Dork Tower series on amnesty for unfriending offensive relatives and childhood friends. It truly is freeing to finally cease contact with racist Aunt Kathy and conspiracy theorist 3rd-grade-classmate Joey. DNA and length of acquaintance shouldn’t equal an obligation to socialize with people you wouldn’t otherwise choose to interact with. But that’s a bigger issue. :) )

  50. I just don’t use facebook; I find this to be a wise policy so far as avoiding facebook-related idiocy.

    And so far as I care about politics, I plan on spending every election from the upcoming one through on to the day that I die with earbuds in/headphones on and the Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again blasting at a volume likely not healthy for my hearing.

    Save the climate; eat less McDonald’s.

  51. “The idea of arguing politics with most of those good folks just makes me feel tired, very much like one feels tired when your uncle, after glass four of wine, starts talking conspiracy theories at Thanksgiving.”

    Very funny! Of course I am sure this goes both ways in that they would rather gouge our their ears rather than listen to your view on politics as well.

    Sounds like facebook would be a better place to keep up with your professional happenings, but of course I would exect that to be a more private place.

  52. Thank you. My thoughts exactly. FB is increasingly challenging for this reason alone. My hope is that people would come to realize that it is their relationships with their friends and family that is much more important than politics. Sadly, by the way many abuse the medium, one would think that politics is the most important element of anyone’s life. Were that so, we would all be very lonely people.

  53. A good friend of mine postulated that FB and other social mediums are akin to a dinner party. Everyone involved knows somebody, but few know everybody, and you best ought to use your black tie manners when conversing. Play nice and realize that you never know when you’re flirting with the boss’s wife.

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