I’m going to briefly talk about two things I love to hate: Facebook and Politics. Bear with me.
Apparently, there’s an election going on. Like right now. You most likely knew that because you’re not an idiot. And you also probably knew that because if you’ve visited Facebook for even a millisecond in the last few months, you’ve seen it–the political outrage, the emotional pleading, angry outbursts, passionate opinions, and my favorite; quoting of the constitution. I have long thought that Facebook and politics go together about as well as pizza and peanut butter. But, we’re still figuring it out. This is the first generation of Facebookers. There’s no precedent. Which is why when Facebook opened the flood gates and allowed anyone to join, college kids ducked in horror as their parents and sometimes even grand-parents had access to a microscope highlighting all of their activity (legal and illegal) for the last year or so. They also laughed as Baby Boomers slowly learned what a poke meant and how to effectively comment on photos and walls. There’s no written etiquette for Facebook We’re all just a bunch on neophytes figuring it out as we go and hoping not to ruin ourselves in the process. Undoubtedly, the consequences of Facebook activity can be huge, regardless of their intent. There have school expulsions, job firings, missed job opportunities, and countless breakups over this enigmatic social network. But hey, there are pros too. Keeping up with family members and long-lost friends, stalking your ex, knowing what your neighbor from grade school ate for breakfast this morning and that your high school boyfriend and his girlfriend are expecting a baby boy! But I’m getting off topic. There is an election going on. And if you spend any time on Facebook right now, you cannot escape that fact, opinions about that fact, and the ensuing written diatribes about that fact.
Sadly, I admit I have engaged in political debates on Facebook. They were miserable, dirty, and useless. No one walked away with their minds changed or cleared or any more informed than when they began. To be fair, verbal arguments can sometimes be just as messy and ineffective. But a verbal argument seems more tangible and more accountable. It’s much easier to write nasty things than to say it to someones face. There isn’t much accountability on the internet. Facebookers and bloggers have a lot power but not necessarily a lot of accountability. It’s easy to type what you feel many times anonymously, without being liable for what you submit. On the Internet, we’re all just a bunch of small boxes with a face (or sometimes a picture of a car or a sonogram) and a name, but we seem to lose a large part of our humanness.
As miserable as Facebook political warfare is, we seem to be addicted to it. It’s hard to keep your mouth shut, (or your fingers idle) when you see someone post something you deem ridiculous. And truthfully, Facebook is where a lot of people make their voices heard. So it makes sense that it is on this platform where people express themselves politically. I don’t wonder why politics comes out on Facebook. It’s clear. I only wonder if it’s ever meaningful. It reminds me of a bumper sticker. It’s a tiny little snapshop of your views, but rarely does it encourage an intelligent dialogue or seem to persuade the other side. For all the engaging and speculating on Facebook I’ve done, I have never once witnessed a meaningful political conversation. Inevitably, someone will type something like “Hey screw you you dirty liberal!” or “You conservatives are a bunch of assclowns!” The people who agree with you are already convinced, and the people who don’t will tell you to go Eff yourself. And then most likely send you a FB invite to their birthday party.
All that being said, my prediction is that we’ll see a large backlash on Facebook November 7th, regardless of who wins the 2012 presidential election. (Duh) Democrats and Republicans alike are enthused, passionate, and each seem to use a disproportionate amount of explanation points. Here is my prediction:
IF OBAMA WINS:
(Warning of the apocalypse)
Everyone ready for the Socialist States of America?
God is good. God is great. Romney lost. We’ll suffer our fate!
Awesome! Another four more years of bullshit! Can’t wait!!!!
I’m moving to Canada. Eff you America!
Four more years of assclowns to run the White House. GREAT!
IF ROMNEY WINS:
(Emotional Depression Sweeps the Nation)
It’s a sad day for America. I really thought we had this one.
Wahhh. How will I afford my birth control?!?!
God is good. God is great. Obama lost. I wanna shoot myself in the head.
I can’t believe I won’t get healthcare and I’ll be in a binder!
Woah, Romney won. Does anyone wanna get frozen yogurt?
When you sign up for Facebook, you sign up to see and hear a lot of things about about your Facebook friends, which is mostly everyone you have ever known. Sometimes you’ll like it and sometimes you won’t. I always wonder how Facebook will evolve and how its users will change. Regardless of who wins, the world will keep on spinning, (according to most) and Facebook will keep on status-ing all over the place. Whether you like what you see or not, it is great to live in a country where you can say it all. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Most of my recent Facebook activity that deals with the election is linked to The Onion–a satirical newspaper. Because I don’t find that political views on Facebook do very much except attract those who disagree. Which is fine. Maybe that’s even the point. Ranting and bickering can be fun, I guess. But from my seat, it never seems to goes well or end well. If we are to examine our intent, what is it exactly? To change minds? To be heard? To inform? I wonder if Facebook is really the place to do it. I think there may actually be a place for politics on Facebook, somewhere. I just don’t think we’ve found it yet. It is however, the best place for pictures of cats and babies and suggestions for cold remedies. No question.
Maybe it won’t always be that way. Like people, Facebook has continued to grow and change throughout the years. Most would probably not even recognize the user interface of Facebook 1.0. And it will be interesting to see what it will look like in the 2016 election and how people will interact then. My prediction: Still a lot of cats. Still a lot of political warfare.
The world spins on.
Health, Happiness, Politics.