When am I going to learn? People are not posting those trite little socio-political pictures that oversimplify issues into pithy slogans because they want to invite discussion. Quite the opposite! They post those so they can take potshots at their otherly-aligned friends while retaining plausible deniability. “What?! You found that offensive?! Hey, don’t blame me, man. I just thought it was funny and reposted it.”
No, that’s probably not true. I suspect most people don’t even think about all their friends when they share things like that. I think it’s mainly meant as a high-five to their friends they know will agree with it, and they don’t stop and think that some of their friends might disagree, or that those friends may be seeing a pattern and wondering “Why arethey friends with me if they feel that way?”
But I believe the last thing they’re hoping for is for one of their friends to disagree with them and call them on it. There are much better ways to open a serious dialogue than throwing up straw-man propaganda pictures in the hope that the more rational people on the other side of the issue will show up and calmly state their case.
I suppose there may be some who actually think what they’re sharing is thought-provoking and convincing, and will cause their contrary friends to reconsider their position, but as I’ve said before (or maybe just thought really hard), anything that will fit in a Facebook pic cannot possibly capture the intricacies of practically any issue. What’s more, most people aren’t going to be ready to listen to what you believe until you’ve given some indication that you understand their side. The picture-share that can do that with such limited space is extremely rare. I am not going to change any minds with a Facebook picture unless by some odd chance it’s seen by the one or two few people in America who were absolutely unaware of the issue before.
It’s really too bad. I do enjoy Facebook for its ability to keep me informed of the day-to-day experiences of my friends. But it’s getting to be such a battleground out there that it’s almost impossible to log in without getting hit by sniping. I really don’t like echo-chambers, but I’m beginning to see the appeal. Not having to have a contrary opinion shoved in your face fifteen times in one night would be nice.
We usually didn’t get this sort of thing with the telephone or email. I could call one of my friends and not worry about him leading off the conversation, “Hi, Thom! Hey, did you know that vegetarians are just wimps who can’t handle real food? So, how’s the wife and kids?” Well, I guess that’s not entirely true, either. I do occasionally get emails from people who I haven’t heard from in ages who will write just to show me the latest expose on something they think I’m going to hell over.
Dagnabbit! What’s happening to us? There used to be rules of civility, of getting along with other people. Those seem to have gone out the window with the advent of the Internet. Didn’t the maxim used to go, “Don’t talk religion or politics?” That seems to be all anyone talks about these days, mainly because they can’t be bothered to write an email or make a phone call so they can be sure that the person they vent to will be sympathetic and not offended.
Which brings me back full circle. When am I going to learn? No matter how hard I try, eventually I get irritated with the continual Facebook sniping and respond. I know I shouldn’t do that, but I do. Why? Bad Thom, no cookie!