Political commentary on Facebook, a call for civility, a plea for self-editing

Yes. Yes. Yessss.

A few weeks ago, I read a blog post from a woman who decided to quit Facebook. She reported feeling “free” and not missing it one bit. At first I thought, no way! I’d miss seeing snarky/funny/compelling status updates from my friends. I’d miss scrolling through pictures and watching kidlets grow tall. Hell, I’d miss knowing about people’s birthdays, births and weddings. And I would sure miss venting about life.

And then the Republican National Convention hit. And tomorrow, the Democratic National Convention. And now I’m seriously considering quitting Facebook, or at least taking a really long hiatus.

The thing is, I’m watching people on my “friends” list–folks who have been in my home, together, and have enjoyed each other’s company–rant, rave, complain and cajole about “the other side.”

Evil, evil Republicans! Who ON EARTH would vote for those lying cads Romney and Ryan? Well, friend, several of the people you broke bread with at my house in the last year. Bleeding heart, money wasting liberals! Who ON EARTH would keep that no-good Obama in office? Well, friend,  a number of folks you consider lovely people outside the realm of politics. Mmhmm.

I despise, despise election years. Not only do I have politicians in my face, on the phone, on the radio, on TV and online ranting at me (whilst wasting millions and millions of dollars, mind you), I have friends–dear friends–lobbying for their cause and lobbing insults left and right. It startles me how divisive party lines seem online. Folks who not only tolerate each other, but celebrate together and love each other can get downright nasty in the abstract when discussing “those” people across the proverbial aisle.

Now, I much prefer passion to apathy, but what good do poisonous Facebook posts do for the world? Not a damn thing.

Yeah, maybe I am a Polly Anna, but wouldn’t
the world be a lovelier place if we did some
thinking before speaking? Photo credit.

As with most things, it’s not “what you say, but how you say it” that bugs. In fact, on one evening last week when my Facebook feed was abuzz with Republican-bashing sentiments, a friend posted a heart-wrenching narrative about her past experience using food stamps. She described in stark detail what it was like to rely on assistance while working, raising a child alone and pursuing education, and how grateful she is to live in a country that had support available. Her story–a rebuke aimed at Mike Huckabee’s* speech and his “uncle sugar” comment–touched me in ways that none of the outraged/outrageous retorts have. It was personal. It put a human face on a major issue. And what’s more, it did not disparage anyone. In fact, it got me to think about the issue which I believe should be the point of all this politics nonsense anyway.

So, dear friends, as the Democratic National Convention gets underway this week and as this election year really heats up (UGH), I ask please, please, please post with civility. Consider  your audience before sharing ugly diatribes. And remember, those people on the “other side” likely include friends, relatives, teachers, students, and lots of people you respect and admire, and just happen to disagree with.

Officially done with my soapbox.


* Correction! Originally I’d attributed this quote to Paul Ryan.

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