Facebook & Politics

Lately a lot of people have been bitching and moaning about all the political posts on Facebook.

“No one’s ever going to change anyone’s opinion by posting something on Facebook.”

People seem put out by the sharing of articles and cartoons and videos and ideas and opinions.

Not me.

True, I have hidden and unfriended some people. Mostly people where there was never any reason for us to be friends – I don’t actually know them in real life, and they don’t contribute in any positive way to my Facebook experience (and where I’m not sure why they friended me in the first place). I’ve also had that moment of shock & dismay when a FB friend shows up in my stalker feed as having liked Mitt Romney. (This is my blog, I don’t need any pretense of neutrality here, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise anyway.)

I try not to take it personally, too – the complaining. I am a heavy FB poster, and it is a rare day that I don’t post something political or current eventsy. Some days, lots of things. My joking defense is that I haven’t amped up for the election season – I post like that all year ‘round. But I am sure people have hidden me, and that is fine (their loss).

I find that many of my Facebook friends read and share interesting things, from a broad pool of sources I could only scratch the surface of on my own. I really appreciate the things they share; it’s like having my own personal shopper for reading material.  Hopefully some of them enjoy some of the things I post in return.

Do I think people’s minds are being changed? Probably not. However, some of the conversations I’ve been in have been lively and interesting and respectful. (That last one is key.)

But here is the real reason I am not only not pissed off by political posting on Facebook, but truly grateful for it.

I have lived in Fort Wayne most of my life, other than a handful of glorious years in the Ann Arbor area. I have spent most of my 41 years in a world where I am different, suffocating under the blanket assumption that we are all the same here. We are all Christian, we are all straight, we are all Republican, we are all socially conservative. “Midwestern values.” I’m not those things. (FYI, I am straight. Not that it matters. I feel the need to include sexual orientation because like my Judaism, it isn’t visible like skin color. Does that make sense?  Because I identify with anyone who is different.)

College was so liberating. I didn’t have to think twice about voicing my opinion or finding like-minded friends. There were lots of Jewish kids – I was no longer the only voice representing an entire freaking religion. I went to Washington with a roommate for a march for reproductive freedom. Ann Arbor wasn’t just a liberal haven – it was equal opportunity. Every culture and way of life in the world had an officially sanctioned student group.

Moving back to Fort Wayne was a bit of culture shock. I had gotten away from that assumption of sameness, and I resented being lumped back in again. My then husband worked at Lincoln, and we joked that finding other Democrats was like a secret society.

It’s not even a question of discrimination or something overt. It’s just the idea what we’re all the same. We all agree. The way people assume.  If you’ve never been the one sneaking peeks around the room to see if anyone else is sneaking peeks around the room, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s exhausting just trying to make people grasp the concept that maybe the person sitting next to them doesn’t share the same belief system. And not only that, it’s a good thing.  Celebrate diversity. It’s boring when we’re all the same. Quit trying to make it so.  

Anyway, back to Facebook. Glorious Facebook with our rampant oversharing and lack of filters. You know what I found when Facebook came along? A whole bunch of people right here in northeast Indiana who are just. like. me! Who I can relate to. Who share my values. Who I can talk to about stuff that gets me fired up. For the first time in my life I feel like I have a large pool of people who get me. It’s not a secret society. It’s a community. And I love it.  


Comments on: "Facebook & Politics" (11)

  1. Excellent, excellent, excellent,Ms. Wendy!

  2. VanDerCoop said:

    clean up in aisle 3! hahaha. I LOVE YOU W! and our community.

  3. Wendy,
    Once again hit the nail on the head and articulate what so many of us living in the Midwest (and certainly, other towns around the globe) feel when we’re lumped into “Midwestern Values” types of taglines. I learn about diverse viewpoints from travel for work, and absorb just as much open-mindedness from your posts. Keep up the great writing! MG

  4. NAILED IT! My sentiments exactly.

  5. I can totally relate to this. I grew up here as the child of an immigrant of Middle Eastern descent. We didn’t look different but we were. But the cool thing about being different is it makes you more aware and sensitive to others who as as well. So whether you agree or disagree -you have more tolerance. My Dads Christian but coming from a place where that is a minority religion he always had Jews and Muslims as friends. And a strong sense of humor is also a great survival tool. he keeps a big camel statue in his office for all the people who have called him ‘camel jockey’. With all that’s gone on in the Middle East during my life I have been so many times in an uncomfortable situation in regard to those stereotypes not to mention my relatives getting strip searched at airports etc.Sometimes we just need to speak up and let people know how clueless they are.

    • Tina, you articulated something I didn’t do a good job of, about our differences uniting us. That being different in some way becomes a common thread in and of itself. Thanks for your comments!

  6. I get frustrated when people complain about it because some don’t WANT to be informed. They want to vote how their parents do and ignore everything else. That is a big reason why there is such a great divide in our country right now. I am glad we connected on fb!

  7. Bill Colaprete said:

    Great post! And keep in mind that people’s minds change slowly, over time, so no, no one’s political philosophy will flip because of a Facebook post. But they might after several hundred posts, articles, and evidence convince them that their position is wrong, or out of touch, or whatever.

    Funny too….I grew up almost the exact opposite. I just assumed everyone was liberal (or at least socially liberal), a democrat, and was all for equality, women’s rights, keeping the environment safe, etc and I’m sometimes still shocked when I find out a friend is a Republican!

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