Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Politics of Facebook

It happens every year. Sure, it's more obvious every four years when the presidential election comes around. But the fact is, every year is an election year. Every November, someone somewhere is running for some kind of office. And, depending on the weight the office being sought carries, Americans are bombarded with television ads trying to convince us to cast our vote for one candidate or another.
It's almost inevitable that someone like me will make some kind of sarcastic comment about these obnoxious commercials then post it to Facebook. that's when the proverbial doo doo hits the fan and the social network becomes a warzone of words being fired like ammunition from people on either end of the political spectrum.
This morning, as I watched the news, I again saw ads for both of the men competing for the office of governor in the Commonwealth of Virginia. For months, I've seen what they've each had to say about themselves and each other. For months, I've been utterly unimpressed. And I nearly said as much in a status update on Facebook. I even had it typed out, ready to click POST.
"The more I see ads in this year's gubernatorial race, the more I think, Really, Virginia? This is the best we have to offer?"
But I didn't click POST. I deleted the entire thing. As neutral as I intended my statement to be, I knew for sure that the majority of my Facebook friends would see my words very differently.
I estimate that approximately 45% of my friends are conservative and would view my status as a complaint against the democratic candidate. About 45% of my friends are liberal and would probably think my words were a rant against the republican nominee. I assume the other 10% are about as middle of the road as I tend to be and would understand that I was complaining about both of the lame gubernatorial prospects. Republican or democrat, I think they're both lousy options.
But I decided not to say anything at all. I didn't want my status to be considered the first shot fired in a heated passive-aggressive political debate.
I get it. Facebook is an open forum where people are free to say whatever they want. I love freedom of speech. I guess I just don't like when people use something I've said as a springboard for their own agendas. I would love to exercise my right to free speech without that speech being hijacked. It's happened before. It'll happen again. Sometimes I'm okay with it, but not every single time.

PS - Don't forget to go back here and ask me a question!

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