Wednesday, October 12, 2016

To Speak or Not to Speak



Erica here: If you're like me, you are so, so, so ready for this presidential race to be over. It seems to have dragged on for YEARS! 

And the rancor has ratcheted up to the point that I can hardly take it in anymore. The division in this country is wide, vast, and deep. 

I feel it. I see it. I hear it.

It's all over the mainstream media, all over social media. My Facebook news feed is FULL of people's opinions about the candidates...and opinions about the idiocy of those who don't support their candidate. There are memes and polls and clips and quotes. There are 'facts' and 'jokes' and 'statistics' to bash or support. 

It makes my heart hurt.

Recently, the question was asked in a FB group to which I belong, whether as an author, "Should you speak up online? Or is it better to remain silent on your political views?"

There are lots of responses to this question:

"I don't want to risk alienating readers who don't share my political views."

"I would rather lose all my readers than not exercise my right to free speech."

"It depends on whether you are a fiction or non-fiction author. Non-fiction authors' readers EXPECT to hear the author's opinions on such topics."

"I am non-confrontational. I don't want to start a flame-war."

 
All of these responses are valid. Each one is personal. None of them are wrong. 

So, where do I fall on this spectrum? What are my views?

I don't post political opinions on social media. 

It's not that I don't HAVE political opinions. Anyone who has met me would know I have opinions on a lot of things, but just because I have them doesn't mean I need to spread them all over Facebook. And I have a few reasons why:

1. I am not stupid. I am going to assume you're not stupid. Therefore, I will assume you have researched the candidates, examined the issues, and come to a conclusion as to your choice. You don't need my Facebook posts to persuade or dissuade you from your choice.

2. I have never yet heard of anyone who changed their minds based upon an internet rant, meme, or shouting match. I HAVE known of people unfriending, being offended, lashing out, and/or causing deep rifts in relationships because of political posts. Why would I want to do that to my friends? We can have differing opinions on candidates and still be cordial. Really.

3. My political opinions are mine alone. I express them by going to the voting booth and making my marks by the candidates I choose. I caucus in the state of Minnesota. I vote in the primaries. I am not obligated to tell anyone, not even my Facebook friends, the candidate who will receive my vote.

4. I believe that political discussions are best done one on one, in person, with respect toward the other individual. This is the venue to share ideas, feelings, and opinions about the issues, the candidates, the process, and your hopes and fears for the future. This is the venue to both LISTEN and TALK. It's two-way communication where you can both see and hear the speaker's intent and inflection and body language, where you can ask for clarification, and where you have to look them in the eye when you say potentially-inflammatory things.

Are you a fan of political posts on social media?

8 comments:

  1. I am not a fan of political posts on social media. There is enough hate in the world already. I'm like you, my opinion is my own and I share it by voting at the booth. This year I have seen some people, I know, that have been friends for over 25 years spewing hate at each other on Facebook over politics. I find it very sad.

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  2. That is so sad. I can only pray that healing will come. Hopefully you aren't caught in the middle of the feuding.

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  3. Great post, Erica. I'm very discouraged by the posts I see on Facebook. Your point about treating people with respect and asuming they are intelligent really resonates with me. So many of these posts are condescending. It's sorely testing my patience.

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    1. It is so easy to be discouraged by all the rancor, isn't it? I find myself fighting hard to focus on things that are positive!

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  4. I don't spend much time on FB now because of all that. Your post is wonderful and speaks to the point. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It is hard to wade through all the political junk! I scroll past posts quickly these days, skimming and rejecting those of a political nature.

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  5. This whole political thing just adds to my depression. I try to remember that God is in control and nothing happens without being filtered through his fingers.
    Each side keeps digging up things that were said and done years ago. Please, even I know people can change over time, some for the good some not so good.

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    1. Grace. I try to remember that we all need grace. Both candidates in the election, their supporters, and our nation.

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