Political Fights On Facebook Make Us All Toddlers | Ask Your Dad Blog

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Political Fights On Facebook Make Us All Toddlers


political debate

Ugh. I did it. I fell off of the wagon. I've been so good too. I've been taking it a day at a time, changing the things I can and accepting the things I can't. Tonight it just got to be too much. I got into a full blown political Facebook fight. I railed. I ranted. I posted links to articles that supported my argument that no one in the thread read. Eventually everything devolved into name calling and by the end we were figuring out how to spell our grunts and beat each other to death with bleached femur bones through social media. Sigh…


What does this have to do with Fatherhood? Well, the immediate political part has nothing to do with being a father. On the other hand, the futile act of trying to make a point to someone who does not want to, or is incapable of hearing it is very similar to having a two-year-old in the house.

Now before you go off and call me an elitist hypocrite for comparing anyone who has a differing political opinion than mine to a toddler, please allow me to clarify. Everyone in a political fight on Facebook is a toddler. Both sides. Every time. Case in point:

We like shiny things

Just like my kid thinks a picture of Elmo is a Rembrandt, folks on Facebook also like simple images. "Share if" and "Like if" posts plague my time line. The political ones are THE WORST. We reduce our opinions to snippy image macros and pass them around like trading cards. They are baited hooks waiting for someone to  comment about how the image represents a complex topic in an overly simplified way... and then it begins. 


Both sides are just waiting for the other side to stop talking (typing).

For toddlers this is called parallel play. The two kids play next to each other, but not with each other. The only time the two interact is when one pisses the other one off. Then they punch each other in the face.

On Facebook it is the same way. We type long, elaborate paragraphless screeds. We practically ignore the opposition's comments, scanning them only for fallacies that we can exploit in our own witty retorts. The person we're arguing with could write the Gettysburg Address. We'd read "score" and "conceived" and argue that they are pro-sex heathens who worship phallic deities.

No one shares.

Sure, everyone "shares" their opinion, but no one shares what really matters. Sharing is giving something up so the other person can have it. In political facebook fights no one gives anything up. We just pull and pull and pull until we either get what we want or the other person cries and runs away. Like toddlers.

So how does this help me to be a better dad?

Well… I'm not sure it does. It does help me be a better citizen of social media. It helps me stay sane. It allows me to realize that I am not a toddler, and that behaving like one on Facebook not only degrades me, but also contributes nothing to the world as a whole. I'll get to vote for whoever I want in November, and no amount of political bloviating on Facebook can take that away. That's pretty cool.

So maybe my political Facebook fight didn't make me a better father. I suppose every life experience doesn't have to make me a better dad. Maybe this time it was the opposite. Maybe being a father can make me a better person.

ELMO 2012!!!

Love, Dad

17 comments:

  1. Oh those image ones are the WORST! Yes, good ideas should be expressed succinctly, but it's nice to know there's more than implied, yeah?

    And the people who do that are on my side of the political fence.

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  2. John, that was quite insightful. I, too, get very tired of the political rants. My views might differ from yours but that doesn't make mine right, and yours wrong. They're just different. I try to stay out of all the name calling and fall out as well.

    Recently, a FAMILY member attacked me (I felt) on FB because I didn't agree with her choice. I didn't fight back. I just reminded her that 1. We're family, and 2. My opinion doesn't have to coincide with hers, and last, but not least 3. She's not likely to change my mind by calling me names. I wish we could all take a step back and think like rational adults.

    Love your blog by the way.
    Janice

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    1. Thanks Janice! I too have had some heated political debates with family members. Luckily the bonds of family are stronger than the bonds of party.

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  3. Whatever, you're so wrong, you have no idea what you're talking about, that's not what Tom Smith said on cable last night, you're probably just some racist who hates jesus. :)

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    1. This made me laugh in my cubicle. Now people think I'm crazy.

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  4. "pro-sex heathens who worship phallic deities": I fail to see the negative connotation in this remark.

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    1. Good point. Not necessarily negative, just not the Gettysburg Address :)

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  5. So what are the constructive avenues for political debate? It seems to me that so many people express a sense of futility when it comes to the public discourse and ultimately shut down and refuse to engage in thoughtful, pragmatic, productive discussions. With politics being so frustrating and deceitful nowadays, those who count on our busy lives and busy minds to be preoccupied with the "day-to-day" so as to win elections will only continue to win until we find avenues to change "how" we talk about these things. While I agree that FB discussions typically produce very little of substance...it is an avenue for discourse...damaged as it may be.

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    1. As with all social media, it depends on how you use it. A conversation is more productive than a megaphone. Facebook can be both.

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    2. Use it to set a date and time to have a thoughtful conversation face to face over a lovely beer!

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  6. Especially if you TYPE IN CAPITALS ; )

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  7. I am one of those who has just 'shut down.' I won't discuss politics with anyone but my husband. Thank God we agree! =)

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  8. John,
    I have to agree with you on FB, I don't get into the political BS there, I just post my political rants on my own blogsite.
    I feel we as a people have gotten too extreme on both ends of the spectrum, I see good and bad things from both major parties, and good and bad things from the minor parties as well.
    I worry that with all the heated rhetoric, we are losing sight of the big picture, focusing in on the extreme positions where we differ, rather than focusing on the places where we can agree, and move forward.

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  9. For me, discussing my opinions on politics on Facebook would be like discussing my opinions on sex and religion. It's deeply personal and complicated and something I would usually only discuss with other folks in a more private area than FB. I'm very aware that some of my FB friends don't share my political views and I don't want to unfairly make them uncomfortable or disrespect them. Unfortunately some of my FB friends do feel the need to expound on their political opinions. I try to just ignore them but sometimes their comments are hurtful (as in when they broadbrush all liberals as lazy, wards of the State or make similar generalizations about conservatives). Thanks for your insightful blog post!

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  10. Of course you are forgetting how your awesome political post, Dear Hypothetically Gay Son, exploded via Facebook. Although it was a personal post, it had extensive political implications. In fact, I sent it to my Dad (I'm a young gay guy) and it changed him. Your article changed me. Thanks for all you're doing and remember that by starting the conversation, even via Facebook, you can make a positive impact :)

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    1. I'm so glad that that post had a positive impact. I definitely didn't write it as a political post, but I see your point. Thanks for reading and commenting Jimbo!

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  11. I found a way to deal with this problem - I have 4 Republican friends, and I hide them from my news feed during election season. Done, and done!

    I like reading political posts from like-minded people, but you are so right. There are some issues you will NEVER see eye to eye on and it is pointless to even try.

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