No, I’m not anti-democracy. I am grateful to live in this country and to have the freedom to make my own decisions concerning social and political issues. I will proudly cast my vote when election day arrives. But, there are a few things that really bug me about election season.
Usually people complain about election years because of the commercials. No one likes to watch the candidates badmouth and slander each other. I despise those commercials as much as the next guy and in the days before DVR, I would skip watching TV in order to avoid seeing them. Even though I can now fast-foward through the negative ads, a new beast has risen. Through this communication resource, people have shouting matches and hurl insults back-and-forth without abandon or thinking before they hit “enter.” The election season has made me hate Facebook.
Facebook may have changed the way we communicate forever, bringing the concept of “social media” to the forefront of our world and vocabulary. I will freely admit I use Facebook daily—to connect with friends, make plans, express opinions (but not political ones), and share links to interesting websites and articles. I have friends of various political leanings and I respect their personal views.
But despite all our technological and social communication advancements, one thing is still certainly the same. People profess their political opinions, personal morals and criticize the viewpoints of others. Facebook just gives them a new avenue through which to do it. And with just a couple of weeks to go in this election, I’m at my wit’s end.
Facebook exists so that people can communicate, express their opinions and share their lives with others. And I’m all about freedom of speech and expression. But a lot of the drivel I see in my “News Feed” is not even educated dialogue. People call Mitt Romney “Mittens” or question Obama’s citizenship. They seem to have little interest in calmly discussing facts and learning from one another. I am no expert when it comes to politics. But none of this is conducive to the election or to solving the problems of our great country.
The social media jabs I see on Facebook are as petty as those commercials we all despise on television—if not worse. I’ve seen heated arguments between various political party supporters in which they back the victim of such an onslaught into a virtual corner and belittle them for their perspective. That is not okay. But it’s exactly what the political commercials have taught the general public to do despite the fact that our constitution protects our right to an opinion, no matter what it may be.
Yes, I think it’s great that people have an opinion and are taking a serious interest in the election. But isn’t it considered a social faux pas to discuss politics in the company of mixed opinions? Because of the volatile nature of the topic of politics, it’s certainly not considered appropriate conversation. At least, it didn’t used to be. According to Emily Post®, politics is now a part of daily conversation, but one must tread carefully and be wary of the appropriateness of the social setting before opening the political Pandora’s box.
If this is the case, then why do we argue and berate each other about it on Facebook? Yes it’s the Internet, but one would think that social rules for propriety apply in this medium as well as regular daily interactions between people. At least, they should.
If you want to share who you voted for on Facebook, that’s fine. That’s your decision. If you want to share your political and social opinion or present facts, go for it. But you’re not going to convince me to vote for your candidate by bad-mouthing the one I have chosen or insulting the social issues I support. Frankly, you’re just going to piss me off.
We live in a country where we have the luxury of supporting a candidate or cause without needing to fear for our lives. So why do we choose to belittle the viewpoints of our fellow citizens and Facebook friends for all of our other Facebook friends to see? Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. And people are always going to have their own opinion. We need to accept that. Some of us may be Democrats, others may be Republicans. Still others may be Libertarian or supporters of the Green Party. Can’t we all just get along?