Hillary is a crook! Trump is a fraud! Is your Facebook news feed screaming as loudly like mine? It is nearly impossible to take a quick glance without being bombarded with political posts, ads. likes, shares, you name it. While this environment is certainly not new, this election year brings something “extra special” to the social media mix. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a level of hate and intense discourse as I’ve seen in 2016 and if you think about it, it all makes sense. Have we ever had two candidates who are as disliked as Trump and Hillary? Have we ever seen this much public political humiliation and character assassination? Have we ever seen this degree of rhetoric and name calling? Our deceased former Presidents are rolling over in their graves.
While doing my usual daily Facebook glance this week, two friends posted lengthy rants about their recent and unpleasant experiences with their Facebook friends on the topic of politics and the election. I won’t go into great detail other than to say these friends indicated they experienced very heated political discussions, which they felt threatened their friendships. One friend wrote about how he always liked “fighting the good fight” and appreciated a lively exchange, but no more. Not now.
I used to fight the good fight too. I would occasionally stir the pot with a political post I felt inspired by, or, the opposite. But over time, it became very clear, even among close friends and family, that many people do not share the same beliefs. In fact, some were even offended and deeply hurt by the postings, which conflict with their own political belief system. I think it’s common for many of us to operate inside our own bubble, not realizing that social media is very much a public space, even though we get to choose our “friends”. Which leads us to 2016, the election year from hell. If there was once a time for hurt feelings, those days are over and have been replaced with fire and brimstone. Name calling, character assaults and assassinations, and pure hatred can now be found everyday right on your Facebook feed. Have you unfriended anyone? I have. Have you unfollowed friends? Me too.
So what can we do? Simply put, don’t go there. There is no winning the political game on Facebook. While some may agree or like what you post, just as many will not. They will feel alienated and will view you differently. Ultimately, you convince no one of anything. They have already made up their minds and many don’t want to see your opinions on display. So why do it? A good friend recently gave me some great advice, telling me he “hits and leaves”. Another words, post a family or vacation photo and move on.
Everyone likes to see those and you won’t lose a friend over it.
2016. What an ugly mess.