Sunday, September 9, 2012

On Political Discourse in Social Media

I'm in a snarly mood this morning.  I've been in a discussion with friends recently about the state of political discourse and the intolerance of the left.  Nothing new there.

Let's talk about Facebook and social media in general for a moment.  New media, even - we can pull this out to the blogosphere, too.

I use my Facebook page not only as a way to keep up with old friends and stay in touch, but also to promote my blog.  Granted, blogging has been slowed by real life these past few weeks but that's another story.   But that's part of the objective of social media as I see it.  Sharing of ideas and spreading information.  Sharing news, articles, and videos you find interesting.

Yet there is a growing trend of intolerance from the left when your opinion doesn't jive with theirs.  That's not really new either, but the chatter seems to be more aggressive.  We've all seen the little e-cards photo that went around Facebook recently that said something like, "Wow!  Your political posting on Facebook has really changed my mind about who to vote for, said no person ever,"

Well, that was kind of funny really and not particularly mean-spirited.  It's the passive-aggressive snark and the even more outright hostile attacks that I find disheartening and that have my blood pressure up today.

A few weeks ago someone in my timeline posted a comment on their own wall (their right, of course!) that derided people for posting political opinion in Facebook.  "There should be a separate place for them to do that!" this person said.  Why?

Why shouldn't I be able to post political opinion and share articles if I want to?  Because it offends YOU?

If I'm offended or don't care to read a person's feed the simple response is to hide their posts or even "unfriend" them if it's that bad.  So why the passive-aggressive snark?

A friend of mine told me of a note she got from one of her Facebook friends which explained that she was unfriending her because of her political posting on Facebook.  That's fine, but why even announce that?   Why not take the high road and take whatever action you feel necessary without provoking a situation of resentment and/or hurt feelings?

Why all the attacks?  Why does the left feel the need to attack and diminish the right?  I'm sure it goes both ways but I've seen it more from the left lately.

We should be able to agree to disagree and stop the snark and hostility.  I get angry about the state of things.  I hate what Obama is doing to this country and I'm quite vociferous and opinionated about it but I won't attack you personally for your differing views.  I'll attack on policy and argument, but not personally.

In social media, I think it's perfectly fair to post and share your opinions.  In this country you are still, for the time being, allowed the right of free speech.


Jayhawk said...

I would say that what the left displays is not so much intolerance as arrogance. Anyone who disagrees with them is stupid. They are the only ones who have any ideas worth listening to and any ideas other than theirs are the product of low intelligence and/or unbalanced minds.

I read blogs and publications of both sides and on the right I read more saying what should be done for the nation, some about how the other side has the wrong ideas, and a smattering about how the other side is evil and/or repugnant. On the left I read almost exclusively how the other side is evil and disgusting, how "we are going to win handily" and a smattering about how the other side has the wrong ideas. Nothing on the left about what should be done for the country. The difference is guite well defined.

Brett & Nikki said...

I wrote a whole comment on this and got an error when I tried to submit it. I am one of those who do not want to see political posts on Facebook. It has absolutely nothing to do with which side I'm on or whether someone disagrees with me on an issue. It has everything to do with the fact that people can't seem to engage in political discourse without getting mean. Facebook is supposed to be a fun way to see what your friends are up to. Why should I have to wade through nothing but mean-spirited attacks from BOTH sides just to see my friend's vacation photos?

The problem with political debate is people can't do it without making jabs at the other side. Case in point: The first paragraph of this post is an insult: the people on the left are intolerant, and the commenter above didn't comment about political discourse in social media; he just attacked the left as being arrogant. Pretty good example of how political discussions go on Facebook. Of course, it is your blog, so say what you want. I don't have to read it, but Facebook is a shared community, and for the most part, all I see is finger pointing and name-calling. So yeah, why would anyone want to sift through that daily? And to say it is only one side who shows arrogance or intolerance is not only wrong, it is delusional. there is plenty of blame to go around on that one.

If people want to discuss politics on Facebook, it should be done with tact and kindness. Tell me what your party and your candidate want to do for your country. Repeated posts and pictures and videos about why Obama or the left both suck will never get me to swing your way. Sorry. Tell me why Romney is the guy for the job. I will listen. But when you start attacking and getting mean, then yeah, you lose my attention. I don't have time or interest in bad manners. I hardly consider that arrogance or intolerance.