Sharing any political viewpoint on Facebook has always fallen under my strict “No-No” list. The reason is my few tentative toe dips into this arena (by commenting on other people’s statuses or links) resulted in some ugly Thread Hijacking by other people’s Friends. No one wins in those situations. When your mother told you, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” she knew what she was talking about. It applies to Facebook too.
My solution was to invoke my mother’s words and keep my mouth shut. I don’t even list my political affiliations on my personal Facebook page. My original reasoning was I’m connected to clients via Facebook. I’m a strong believer in keeping politics out of business relationships, for obvious reasons.
(Side note: I now wonder if Facebook’s Lists make that original reasoning obsolete. It’s possible, now that I can easily limit what people see on my page, to share certain things with Friends who will find them interesting and inoffensive. Something to ponder at a later date.)
I have a lot of politically minded Friends, and I confess to enjoying many of the blog posts and news articles they share. But beyond a simple “Like” of a very few that resonate, I leave them alone. (Some have told me how they’ve had friends and family members “Un-Friend” them because of politics — another subject I’d like to ponder at a later date.)
I’m giving you all these details because I want to talk about a Facebook Friend who did something I think was very, very brave last week. She shared (via her Status Update) her personal feelings about a political situation that is very controversial in this country.
This particular status update was long, but very well thought out. She wasn’t quoting any political pundit or invoking dead presidents. She simply stated, in a very honest way, why the nature of this current U.S. political stance bothered her and how she felt about it.
I found her honesty inspiring. She managed to strike just the right tone — no lecturing, no emotionally loaded ranting, no quoting of politically biased or religious sources. She used simple words to explain what was important to her and why she felt that way.
I respect that.
I also found it heartening that she attracted a number of positive comments from her Friends (and no Thread Hijacking to date).
I’ve seen many media stories about how Facebook can make people feel bad about themselves because people typically only share the good parts of their lives. It’s hard to gain perspective because they only see the best of their Friends’ lives. (Trip to Europe! New car! Wedding! New baby! New job! New boyfriend/girlfriend!)
I think that phenomenon could be extended to include politics as well — so many bits of code are dedicated to the extremists, that the middle folks sometimes feel isolated and alone.
What’s more, maybe I’m contributing to that problem by keeping quiet about my political beliefs.
It’s almost like watching the Internet bully people, and not telling it to knock it off.