RANT: Social Media & Political Posts – A New Revolution

First, since I’m calling this a “rant” let me start with my obligatory disclaimer: I’m tired, I’m fussy and I can’t take a well-deserved nap.  My body is trying to send signals to close my eyes and flood my system with serotonin in a subconscious rebellion to force me into sleep.  Yet, I must remain vigilant against these waves of yawns.  I will readily sacrifice my mood to win this battle and while I’m tempted to raise a white sheet over my body in surrender while nuzzling down into a pillow, I will remain alert on this eye-burning battlefield.

Second, you should know that like you I have political views that are based on my education, the environment I grew up in, my personal experience, my job, my gender and my own biases.  I recognize that your views might be different.

That’s the nice bit.

Let’s start with there are certain things I hate about Facebook and Twitter and Texts and really anything that lets me see every single thought you decide to share as it bubbles up to your brain.  (Realize that when I say “you” I don’t mean “you” per se.  You’re a lovely person.  I’m sure we’d get along just fine. For this blog’s purpose “you” means “those few FB ‘friends’ of mine who got me started today” )  Let me be even more specific and honest.  I hate your political posts.  I do.  Here’s why:

You are posting to every single person you “friended”.  Not everyone shares your beliefs.

Ok, that’s not true.  We agree:

1)      Your kids are great and cute.

2)      Your vacation looks awesome.

3)      I’m envious of those pictures of your toes in Wales.  Mine are still on my messy carpet.

4)      Your family is awesome.

5)      That picture made me smile and long to hang out with you/be where you were.

6)      I’m super excited that you achieved that thing you/your family/your kids wanted – well deserved!!

7)      Your pets are the best.

8)      I love that song, too.

9)      That video with the cat – HYSTERICAL!

Where we quickly go off rails is over those three taboo subjects your parents should have drilled into your head are not ok to discuss at the dinner table: money, religion and politics.  It seems that by and large we manage to avoid the first two, but there’s always that special someone who always has to step into politics.

The Rant

I don’t mind the political posts even if the views are different from my own, but here’s one big fat caveat: people who refuse to fact check.  These are the folks who read something inflammatory on another “friends” page and they decide to share it while packing in their own bit of ignorant vitriol. ALL FOR SOMETHING THAT ISN’T TRUE.

I don’t know if I have a keen Snopes sense for stupidity or if it’s that I’m so highly cynical I don’t trust that kid I met in high school to interpret any form of statistical data accurately (or most words) much less my own family and I tend to like them.  My Spidey sense gets especially tingly if the linked article points to a blog and not the actual source of the bogus statistics. And maybe it’s because I like poking myself with a sharp stick when I’m sleepy and fussy that I read their posts knowing they will make me angry enough that I will end up looking up the information or maybe it’s that there are some people out there that I think “hey, another stupid post, I bet they got it wrong this time, too! Let’s take a look,” but off I go. They never disappoint, though.  In less than two minutes I can nearly always find the real information.  An amount of time they could have also taken before hitting that “Share” button; however, they were high on their own bile apparently and couldn’t be bothered. This isn’t everyone; this is that special willfully ignorant few on my feed.  Either they’ve made a choice not to be honest, or it’s plain stupidity and their lifelong goal is to look pretty stupid in front of hundreds of people and wave it like a big proud stupid flag.  Mission accomplished.Stupid Flag

You don’t have to be on the same side of the political spectrum as me.  You don’t have to believe in the same ideals that I do nor place the same value on them.  However, if you’re going to share a post whose sole purpose is to be sensational or provocative, then GET IT RIGHT.  In fact, get it right every time.  Getting it wrong EVERY TIME makes me think you’re either doing it on purpose OR you’re not particularly bright.  Which is fine, because that inspires me to believe that if I create my own semi-official looking website, rip off enough official looking charts from Forbes, skew the facts just enough so that things sound plausible, that I can convince you an evil socialist unicorn union is masterminding the downfall of the economy – that soon all the manticores will be spilling over our borders stealing our coveted orchard-picking day labor jobs that we were all vying for and selkies are listening into our calls  – which we all remember is not permitted under the Patriot Act at all.  That’s a fact.  An act that was signed into law under who again? That’s right, Titania.  And the great thing is, in this fast food world, I know you won’t check, because you know there’s one truth which is: if it’s sensational enough, it’s gotta be true! So go on you absurd lurid little monkey – rise up against the unicorns, the manticores, the selkies and even Titania.  I look forward to leading your ignorant little revolution and preying on your weak mindedness. Bless your hearts.

Now before I take my well-deserved nap, I will go post something about cats or maybe a shot of my toes outside and “Like” some photos. Afterwards I’ll get to crafting the new website where we can do fun things like blame the poor and maybe some minorities!  I’ll make the pretty and misleading charts!  You just bring that giant blank brain of yours.

Politics LOL: A Bit of a Rant

There are three things you’re not supposed to talk about at the dinner table: politics, religion, and sex (or money, depending on which three things your family subscribed).  I extend the dinner table to my personal forums: my blog, my Facebook account and my Twitter feed.  While my hesitancy is partly due to the belief that you really don’t care and that I won’t eloquently express myself, the other part is that I recognize not everyone is on the same philosophical page as I am.  It’s disheartening, really, but I accept that you all apparently have “free will” to think different (albeit at times “wrong”) thoughts.  This self-discipline is what passes as “manners” and keeps me from devolving into a rage ball of, “Heretics! Treacherous lying dissenters! Imbeciles! BURN THEM ALL!” at Christmas.  It turns out that if you don’t sit quietly when a forbidden topic does appear that you will not get the choicest piece of pie and you might find yourself sitting at the kid’s table.  Since I prefer the adult table, I save my views for the long rant on the drive home.  Woe to the person who finds themselves in that car if a controversial subject arose that I was forced to bite my tongue over.  I was taught to keep things civil by listening quietly while stabbing my food pointedly; it’s how I was raised.

Some background on me: my degree was in Political Science with a focus on foreign policy and political philosophy.  Needless to say, I am somewhat passionate about the subject of government and political ideology.  I am not an independent.  I am not a moderate.  I have very firm and deeply held beliefs based on my education, my experience and my environment.  And with Presidential elections a mere two months away, I’m a bit amped up.  What holds me back are the rules my mother put in place when I was a little girl.

That being said, I choose not to express my views on this blog or on FB unless it’s to “Like” a post or make the occasional comment. I see these forums as an extension of my dinner table. I also try to be keenly aware that my readers and FB “friends” represent a diverse group of people who hold many different religious and political beliefs.  On the rare occasion when I choose to say something, I try to keep that diverse group of people in mind and keep my words free of vitriol and free of insults. Basically, if I feel like posting something insulting, I know it’s time to walk away. I may at times disagree with my friends, but I do respect them and what they believe.  (Unless they believe in something harmful like eating babies – please, try not to eat babies – see, I recently learned it’s not actually a religious practice, it’s something called cannibalism, you can look it up.  It’s apparently a universal taboo. It also may lead to halitosis and no one likes a person with bad baby breath).

This is all a long-winded way of saying that in this political season where people are riled up and forgetting their table manners, I’ve had to dump a few “friends” from FB who forgot they were in a public forum and decided to attack my beliefs.  See, I personally think it’s possible to take an intelligent stance on a difficult issue without attacking your audience.  Of course, I also believe in unicorns.

But let’s say you do feel inspired to post that post and you want to be taken seriously.  Here is my practical guide to political postings based on some missteps I’ve seen on FaceBook:

  • Your statement should be about the ideas, not the people who hold them.  You may not care for a particular ideology, but don’t state that the people who do are knuckle-dragging drooling imbeciles who are best suited for licking walls.  These are your “friends” and in theory you “friended” them because you felt like you had something in common.  Unless you feel like that commonality is knuckle-dragging-wall-licking, then don’t say it.
  • “LOL” –  it’s not a punctuation mark.  For example: “Senator McCain argued that torture didn’t lead the United States to Osama bin Laden LOL.” That makes me immediately want to respond, “WTF?”, because I’m seriously trying to discern whether you did in fact laugh out loud at that and why.   A posting tennis match will ensue where we’ll devolve into l33t speaking brain mush like  “yeah, he totally PWNED the hearing like he roxxored those Vietcong n00bs at that Hilton place. AMIRITE?”“McCain FTW!” A Chuck Norris joke will feel the need to wander in and the entire ridiculous exchange will be followed by a volley of baffling “Likes”. Ultimately, it ends up being distracting and wholly inappropriate if your goal is to be taken seriously.
  • Unless you’re Steve Carell, your statement should never end with “that’s what SHE said”.  I saw this one in reference to a gross misquote from one of the candidates wives.  That’s when my eyes got lodged in the back of my head.  My vision has suffered ever since.

I’m not saying don’t make statements about your beliefs, but be mindful of your audience if you don’t want to lose them.  I know I tune out once the insults start. You can make a strong, controversial statement without being insulting or sounding like a dolt (a euphemism, because I’m being a grown-up today).  Think of it this way – the more educated you sound on a given topic, the more likely people will listen and the higher the chance that someone might be swayed by your argument. Think of yourself as a political evangelist. Go on you, sway those masses.

This rant brought to you care of FB.  Now that it’s off my chest, I won’t be forced to drive to a small town in Texas to thump someone unceremoniously on their idiotic forehead.  (She doesn’t read this blog, so it’s ok if I’m insulting. Also, she does in fact drag her knuckles.  I’ve seen it.)