What is going on with Facebook? When did it become a battleground of opinionated ranting? Over the past few weeks, like many other people, my page has resembled a political war zone with friends posting and liking varied political rants, pictures, articles, videos, etc. The opposing views of my liberal and conservative friends left my page littered with political garbage that frankly bordered on the ridiculous.
Even before the battle began over the latest political issues, I had become quite disillusioned with this social media platform and was teetering on the edge of quitting it altogether. I always thought of Facebook as a fun place. A place to unwind virtually and give your brain a rest from the tragic headlines that dominate our news. It’s a place for catching up with family and friends. A place where you can keep track of the important things like how many times your friend goes to the gym; what they had for dinner; how their struggle with insomnia is progressing. It can also be a place of encouragement. My Facebook feed is not a place where I want to see pictures of abused animals, even if you are trying to raise awareness. Nor do I want to read a personal manifesto on your right to bear arms. I also don’t want to see countless “liked” photos of the latest celebrity being lauded as a hero for something that, in this day and age, is really not heroic. But, I decided, it’s Facebook, humans are involved, these things happen. There’s always the “hide” button. However, it became increasingly difficult to keep up with the hide button once the political warfare over the confederate flag “debate” and the gay marriage ruling exploded across my page.
I understand we have an innate desire to express ourselves, to let our opinions be known whether anyone wants to hear them or not (that’s kind of why I started this blog). There’s nothing wrong with that. But, call me crazy, I was always under the impression we should do so with respect. The tone, word choices, and disrespect with which I saw some people expressing their opinions left me feeling disappointed. Unfortunately, much of the “debating” I witnessed on Facebook mirrored that of the individuals who run this country (whoever that may be at the moment). Those same individuals who can never seem to settle anything respectfully, judiciously or effectively.
It seems many of us have lost the ability to discuss our differences rationally with clarity and intelligence. I was surprised how quickly some posts, from both sides of the issues, denigrated into the downright hateful. Thankfully, not all of my friends felt the need to post an inflammatory diatribe on their Facebook page and they were not the originators of the hateful comments I am referencing. Many of the worst, more offensive comments found their way inadvertently to my feed via friends or family commenting on posts from people I do not follow.
In the interest of transparency and exposing my own hypocrisy, I must confess that I am just as guilty of climbing onto my Facebook soap box from time to time. I try to keep those posts to a minimum and try my best to remember that not all of my friends think or believe as I do. I have many friends who are liberal-minded and whose religious beliefs differ greatly from my own. Does that mean I should use Facebook as a medium for posting endless rants criticizing their point of view because they don’t believe as I do? Personally, I don’t think it does. On the other hand, does that mean I should be subjected to endless criticism and ridicule for my conservative political and religious beliefs? In my OPINION, no it does not.
There are some who may read this and assume that I am ashamed of my beliefs or that I think you should never share your opinions on Facebook. That is not the case. The issue here is the manner in which we share our opinions. It is, to me anyway, important to respect my friends and family who have the right to think what they want to think just as I do. The even bigger issue I should consider before vomiting my personal political vitriol all over Facebook is this: my mind has never been changed by any opposing political or religious opinion posted on someone’s Facebook page. If my beliefs were actually affected by anything posted on Facebook, then I would need to undergo some serious self-evaluation. I would imagine that I am not the only one who feels this way.
Relentless Facebook rants may make us feel better temporarily, but what good do they do in the end? I know this is a “free” country and everyone has the right to express their opinion; I’m not disputing that. I just wonder if Facebook, a place that was designed to connect family and friends, is really the place to do it.