I remember a time when Facebook was fun. When pictures were just pictures and status updates were full of good humor.
I remember a time when Facebook was akin to one great big reunion on the Internet.
Sadly, that time has passed.
As we near another anger-fueled election, on all ends of the spectrum (I’m not taking sides here, my friends), Facebook has become a hotbed for political opinions.
Forget about the non-stop someecards clogging my feed each day, now pictures of everything from politicians to babies to flags to families have become an opportunity for hatred fueled rants about one side or the other.
And the responses? Step back, people, Facebook users have a lot to say about just about everything. And they aren’t afraid to use venomous words that leave you feeling just a little bit hopeless about the state of humanity.
It starts with an angry response to a political post of the opposing side, a response often made on impulse (a knee-jerk reaction, if you will). Another follows, then another, and yet another…until a group of “mutual friends” who wouldn’t otherwise know one another are arguing over a politically fueled picture that you just had to post because you really wanted your 365 “friends” to know where you stand on women’s rights, gay marriage, or welfare.
But have you ever stopped to think about why you need those 365 people to know exactly where you stand on the so-called issues? Have you ever wondered what they really think of those 17 graphics you feel compelled to post each day?
Before I start to sound horribly naïve, let me clarify: I love the power of social media. I love that social good can from social media. I love that grassroots efforts can grow by leaps and bounds and effect great change, both in the United States and abroad, simply by clicking “like”. I love when friends share articles and information that I might have missed along the way. I love that we can help one another with the click of a button.
But I don’t love the negative side. I don’t love the constant barrage of negative input and opinions. I don’t love the arguments that take place from behind the security of a computer screen and a really good profile picture.
We haven’t even conquered the month of September, and already people are throwing out threats left and right on Facebook.
I will defriend anyone who supports (insert political platform here).
I will block anyone who posts political graphics.
I will hide the feed of anyone who dares to mention that a woman should have a right to make medical decisions about her own body…
Which brings us back to…high school.
It’s enough to drive a girl to drink (that’s my story, anyway).
While venting to my husband about the demise of the previously fun Facebook in favor of this new, politically charged timeline of hatred, he relayed a similar conversation that he recently had with a friend. His friend likened Facebook to a cocktail party, a place to catch up with old friends and have a little fun.
That’s exactly it.
Facebook began as the greatest cocktail party on the web. What was once a place to catch up with old friends and share a picture or two somehow morphed into everyone’s favorite place to vent their negative emotions of the day.
Yes, we all have views and opinions. No, we do not agree on every issue. But do we really have to share every opinion with 365 of our closest former close friends?
We need to return to the days of treating Facebook like a cocktail party.
You wouldn’t show up to a cocktail party wearing an “I heart Mitt Romney” t-shirt and carrying a manila file full of graphics, articles, and witty quips to backup that t-shirt, would you?
You wouldn’t threaten to remove someone from the party simply because they didn’t support all of your views, would you?
And you wouldn’t scream out negative, hatred-filled responses every time someone touched on a subject that didn’t sit well with you, would you?
No, you would not.
My guess is that you would wear a cute cocktail dress or some freshly pressed pants and a button down shirt. You would have a few drinks while catching up with old friends about things like work, family, kids, and other common bonds. You would joke, laugh, and ask a lot of questions. You would most likely keep the political banter to a minimum, and you would probably have a very good time.
And then you would ride home in your car with the “I heart President Obama” bumper sticker on the back and I would be none the wiser…
Which is exactly how I prefer to be when it comes to your political opinions (that “like” button, by the way? Is nothing more than a giant bumper sticker.)
You won’t change my vote by posting 17 political graphics per day, and I won’t change yours by doing the same.
But I would love to see pictures of your children and hear all about your new job. I would love to hear about your siblings and know that your parents are enjoying retirement.
Truly, I just want to have a few drinks and catch up the important stuff, like season premiere of “Modern Family” and the latest John Mayer record. And maybe read some interesting information on education, healthcare, music, and parenting when I find a moment…
So please, Facebookers, I’m begging you…can we all agree to return to the days of cocktail party behavior?
Can we take back the Timeline?
Disclosure: While I know that this isn’t much of a “parenting” post, remember this: Your children will do as you do, not as you say. How would you want them to communicate their political views?