Friday, February 11, 2011

Do political stati have a place on Facebook?

Something I have had issue with for a long time are people posting highly opinionated political statements on Facebook. In fact, I have de-friended people based on their left-wing or right-wing stati and/or comments. However, I am not entirely satisfied with my own thoughts on the subject, and I would warily like to open a discussion on the question, realizing that this could lead to some of the things that bother me most about political stati.

Reasons I do not like political stati:
1. the nature of Facebook means that any comment I make on your political stati will be seen by all of your other friends. This often leads to misinterpretations and debates with complete strangers, which are rarely enlightening because they are backed by emotion and misinterpretation of text. Nuances of a relationship between me and you are lost when I comment on your Facebook status because your other friends do not know me and they therefore assume the worst about me and my comment.

2. the nature of the internet (and this is expanded) means that the person I am arguing with, be it you or a Facebook friend of yours, can go on and on and on writing a block of text about a subject that I find unrelated, or that has misinterpreted my thought, etc. In an actual discussion, I'd have the opportunity to raise my hand/interrupt and change the course of discussion (either by asking how it's related, pointing out their error in interpreting my thought, etc). On Facebook, I cannot do that AND I am required to explain my objection AFTER they've made their entire thought. This leads to a lot of unnecessary thought and frustration.

3. Political Facebook stati seem highly out of place and lead to a lot of misdirected passion. Facebook's newsfeed design allows me to scroll along, happily reading posts like "got an A on my test", "going to a party tonight" from people or "how to fix your computer", "want to win a free towel? like this!" from pages, etc. and then, all of a sudden, there's something that scratches me the wrong way politically. The way we've been programmed is to immediately comment on this with our own political response. The social rules like "never talk about politics or religion" that required us to remember how to be civil when we talk and think about what is coming out of our mouths, those rules are gone. We spew whatever comes into our head, consequently ticking off an infinite number of other internet users, because I heatedly comment on your status and your friend reads it and posts a status about how he hates people like me and his friend posts an agreement comment, etc. In real conversation, you may hate what I say, but you are polite enough to not say it to my face. On the computer, we all get as nasty as we want.

There are probably more, but you get the idea, and they all end up at similar conclusions - the impersonal nature of the internet, the lack of nuance.

No comments: