Simonson Says: Facebook offers public venue (for being rude to your friends)
And we thought our troubles would be over when the election was done.
Sure, we might not agree with everything whoever is elected stands for, but at least the Facebook catfights will calm down, right?
I hadn’t yet joined Facebook during the last presidential election, so I was a little unprepared for the onslaught of aggressively political posts in my Facebook feed that accompanied this one. Of course, some friends are like that all year long, but everyone gets in on the act when a literal political contest is under way.
I don’t mind people expressing their beliefs on their Facebook pages. After all, what is your Facebook page for if not to showcase yourself and your life to your social circle? What shocks and saddens me is that I’ve never seen so-called friends be so hideous to each other in public as they are on Facebook. You’re fine with them being listed for all the world to see as your friend, but then you’re also fine with calling them an ignorant buffoon0 where 200-600 people can see it the second they disagree with you?
I’ve even seen people say to their own family members that they’re ashamed to be part of their family because of differing beliefs, right where the whole family can see it. I don’t care how just a cause you’re supporting or think you’re supporting — this is not going to endear you to anyone.
I get that we’re not super close with everyone on our Facebook friend lists — half of them might just be people you were co-workers with for two seconds — but if you have that much of a problem with them and their views that you’re willing to make an idiot of yourself in front of actual friends and loved ones just to insult them, then maybe you shouldn’t be “friends” with them at all. I know that, when it comes to politics, we’re all just so certain that ours is the only right way of thinking and everyone who could disagree with us on such an important topic must be evil that we think we’re actually doing the right and holy thing by calling less-enlightened individuals out. Trust me, though — you don’t come out looking that great yourself.
I know certain topics arouse emotion in all of us, but if you can’t respond like a calm and rational person to someone disagreeing with you, you shouldn’t be responding at all. Even if the person you’re responding to is not your friend, but a friend of a friend, don’t you still want to come off like a semi-reasonable person? Consider also that, in cases of responding to someone you don’t know on a mutual friend’s page, you know absolutely nothing about the person you’re talking to or what they mean to your friend. You could be attacking your friend’s family member or someone very important to them for all you know, which isn’t exactly going to win your friend’s favor. If you care at all about the person you publicly claim as your “friend,” is it really worth alienating them just to show someone else up?
This by no means applies to just political debates, either, though that is where I tend to see the most ugliness. Your Facebook page might be your space, but we’ve all heard about people who have actually been fired for what they’ve said on theirs. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t be able to express ourselves however we see fit on our own pages, but that, whether we like it or not, other people are watching and drawing judgments, which can have serious consequences, no matter how unfair. We have freedom of speech wherever we are, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still consider what we’re saying and who is listening.