Facebook, Politics, and Friendships

I dislike political posts on Facebook.

I also dislike that these posts are called "memes" for some reason. These posts are usually manipulated images with silly bumper-sticker statements, "memes" — a meme is a cultural norm passed along, not a bumper sticker. Then again, bumper stickers might be a meme: a style or behavior spreading through a community. The "meme" would be the action of posting these polarizing, annoying online images.

Posting your political insights, borrowed from some partisan group, isn't going to sway friends and family with opposing views. If anything, it drives them to block your posts from their timelines or to "de-friend" and "unfollow" you completely.

Stop it.

Those "witty" posts about the president, Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, business, and whatever else you find so compelling… compels me to ignore you. I don't remove friends for their political views, but I stop reading their posts to social media.

Being vehemently anti-whatever isn't open-minded, no matter how evil you believe others with an opposing viewpoint must be.

I am sickened by the polarization online. It's depressing. It's why I avoid reading the comments below most articles online. If you have to resort to elementary school name calling ("Rethugs" and "Dumbocrats") or misuse of labels ("Fascists" seems popular), I don't really want to feed into the discourse.

Technology didn't improve democratic discourse. It seems to be killing it. Yes, the majority will still "win" and with even 51 percent of the vote, the winners won't listen to any good ideas from the opposition. Why? Because you cannot work with people you've been calling evil (and worse) for the last year or two.

Today, the radicals of our parties demand an all-or-nothing approach to governing. I believe social media are exacerbating such rigid ideological stances. Compromise? That's unacceptable to the Facebook warriors, fed by Daily Kos, Red State, and dozens of Facebook and Twitter feeds tossing rhetorical hand grenades into policy debates.

I wonder if our government would be better if we forced elected leaders to stay in D.C. for six months, with no media access, randomly assigned to dormitories and seated alphabetically in the chambers. Instead of trying to be celebrated on Twitter, maybe our officials would talk to each other as colleagues.

Maybe I could create a "meme" about getting along!

Ironically, I bet friends across the political spectrum would be offended, realizing I'm attacking their tendencies to promote anger, distrust, and cynicism.

Remember when we were told that it is never wise to discuss politics or religion? That's still good advice, especially on social media. It would make the online world a little nicer, too.

How sad that the online discourse is so toxic.


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