Sunday, October 14, 2012

Facebook + Politics = No Bueno

Things are really heating up with politics these days. And it's making things particularly tense on Facebook. Remember back in high school, when other kids would start shoving each other and we'd all start chanting, "Fight! Fight! Fight!" That's basically how I feel on Facebook lately. I've noticed there are different types of political Facebook posts that don't go over well. These are the types I've seen so far:

The doomsday post

Their message: If the other guy wins, the end is near.
Our (sarcastic) reaction: that makes sense. Seems logical. Can't see why this wouldn't happen.
Convincing factor: 0/10 Why? Too extreme.

The informed post

Their message: I'm simply trying to share the facts with you. I'm not trying to start any fights. Just putting more information out there. Information that proves that I'm right.
Our reaction: Ok. I probably won't read that post, and I may hide you from my news feed, but I don't hate you.
Convincing factor: 2/10 Why? Does anyone change their mind based on articles people post on facebook? Don't we just post articles to further prove why we're voting the way we are? Do we really expect to change anyone's minds?

The if-you-knew-what-I-know-you'd-vote-for-my-guy post

Their message: You're simply lacking the information that I have. If you had the information I have, you would have no choice but to vote for my guy. Let me share this information with you so you can be informed, like I am.
Our reaction: Stop being condescending.
Convincing factor: 0/10 Why? It's annoying to be talked down to like that.

The mean post

Their message: Usually in the form of "funny (mean)" pictures. Typically says that if you're a Democrat you both own an iPhone AND are on welfare, and if you're a Republican, you hate Big Bird.
Our reaction: You're a jerk.
Convincing factor: -10/10 All this does is further convince us that we don't want to be on your side 'cause you over simplify and are mean.

The one issue matters most post

Their message: The issue I care about the most is the reason I vote for the person I vote for. If you don't vote for the same one issue as me (abortion, gay rights, military, education, tax cuts) then you deeply offend me and are against me.
Our reaction:  Um..... ok.
Convincing factor: 1/10 We're convinced we need to avoid you until after the election. But we appreciate and respect your passion.

The violent post

Their message: I want to violently hurt the guy I'm not voting for. Don't you?
Our reaction: Not really.
Convincing factor: 0/10

The character post

The message: The guy I'm voting for has great character. He's done this, that, and the other for other humans. He's done x, y, and z for his church. Your guy is a Muslim who wasn't born in America. OR Our guy cares more about people. Yours cares about corporations. We have compassion and you don't!
Our reaction: Eye roll.
Convincing factor: -5/10  We feel like you're judging us when you say that.

The you're an idiot if you don't vote for my guy post

The message: No but for real, if you don't vote for the same guy as me, you CLEARLY don't understand the constitution or the issues at hand. You're misinformed and DUMB. Read a book for once in your life!
Our reaction: No, YOU'RE dumb.
Convincing factor: -20/10 

The I don't care how many friends I lose, politics are that important to me post

Our reaction: The feeling is mutual.
Convincing factor: nil

The clearly jumping on the band wagon post

The message: I usually don't care about politics but I heard this thing today and NOW I'M MAD!
Our reaction: Take it down a notch.
Convincing factor: Whatever the issue is you are mad about, we've already heard of it and are over it.

Facebook political posters - keep up the good work. You're changing all of our minds.

Sincere question though: Has any Facebook post ever changed your mind? What effect do these posts have on you? Is there such a thing as a positive political Facebook post?


Katherine said...

I'm with you. I thought by posting a photo of the guy I'm voting for and no political message whatsoever I'd be safe, but it turned into a big, dramatic hate-fest. People were calling each other names in the comments, attacking me and other commenters to the point that I finally took it down and started the plot to unfriend/block people.

I'm getting mad again just thinking about it, so I'll stop. To answer your question, no FB political post has ever changed my mind about who to vote for, but it's certainly changed my mind about certain people I'm "friends" with...

Cheeky Candid Contemplations said...

I agree that I don't think facebook is changing any minds about the election. It makes me wonder about the debates. All I hear after is that however people felt before they feel after. Maybe it is for undecided voters but even then I don't see the debates as very civil.

Here's to it being almost over.

Robin Erickson said...

Couldn't agree with you more. Try putting up with Canadians who can't even vote one way or the other who throw the stuff up against their walls!

Sara said...

Pretty true run down. You forgot the "you guys should stop talking about politics on Facebook" post. ;)

I am ok with the political article sharing, fack checking, election time meme discourse. I don't seem to have a lot of Republican friends though so my feed is very blue but I wouldn't mind some insight into what's important to them. I don't see it as trying to change minds, more trying to understand each other and what's going on.

Chris Crittenden said...

I don't think Facebook posts or televised debates do much to change people's minds (except for maybe the few undecideds in the country), but I do think they serve an important purpose (for the candidates, not for friendships) and that is to motivate/demotivate voters to get out and vote.

Since a lot of elections hinge on turnout, that seems like a reasonable purpose for posting political stuff ... that said, I'd imagine that Facebook posts that make both sides equally angry (most posts) have the same motivating effect and so don't help anyone except for the people who don't like friends.

Peter Shirts said...

Idea for a follow-up post:

How we react to various comments to political Facebook posts.


violet50 said...

I only want to hear about families. No political post has ever changed my mind and I'm always suprised at how many people want to tell me how to vote. It seems that they don't think I have a brain or the ability to think for myself. Is my frustration showing??

Christi said...

So I'm the weird outlier who does actually have my mind changed by an occasional Facebook post. It's typically a post that links to a respectful article that has actual facts in it. So it's not a daily occurrence. I do wish people would mostly just shut up about it. I have really strong feelings of not wanting either of the two main candidates (who shall not be named) to win, which is obviously impossible, so the whole thing causes a lot of angst.

Kristin McElderry said...

mixed feelings. Sometimes I get good articles that make me think-- but as of late it is all a lot of hate and negative energy. My facebook friends are pretty half and half -- which means I am getting the full gambit.

BTW -- I think there are a lot more undecideds out there than people think (myself being one, and I know many others). We feel frustrated that there are no good sources to get info. Facebook would definitely not be it! All the stuff lately has been making me want to write in another Candidate. I am thinking Dumbledore at this point... Ha!

Rachel Stabenow said...

Love this! Also nope... I will vote for whoever is tails on election day. I go for the sticker. ;P

Rachel Stabenow said...

Love this! Also nope... I will vote for whoever is tails on election day. I go for the sticker. ;P