Thursday, June 27, 2013

Don't be a 'hater'!

I can't stop reading today's never ending threads on Facebook. I'm virtually in the middle of two live political debates (Okay ~ more like sitting on the fence watching from the sidelines), but watching it real time nonetheless.

I'm astounded, often impressed and somewhat flabbergasted by the extreme opinions being expressed by the second. It's like watching a needle of a compass swing back and fro between North and South.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have opened the floor to everyone ~ not just representatives in the House of Commons (or senate if you will) ~ and so finally, everyone gets the opportunity to put their two cents in. Awesome, right? Surely everyone deserves the right to a say? Um... no, I don't think I agree either.

It's astounding and a little bit terrifying to read the number of comments that are completely off the mark. Need any justification for an Electoral voting system? Try Facebook!

I'm not talking about opinions (if I were, at least 50% of what I read was 'off the mark'!) I'm talking about the sheer number of civilians who seem to have misunderstood the whole thing in the first place.

Random statistics, and slurs and atrocities are posted with little regard for common sense, social etiquette or decorum. It's hard for me to read and support a stance when it is presented between mindless, vicious character assaults ~ even when I supported their beliefs in the first place.

If we are to call ourselves civilians, when did we as a 'civilized' race decide it was okay to grossly disrespect our fellow human beings for not sharing each others beliefs? How can we believe in 'free speech' and yet burn each other so badly for exercising that very right? The right to free speech does not mean the right to slander another person. Free speech does not make abusive language, accusations and name calling okay.

Politics is a tricky business and standing so publicly and strongly by what you believe in enough to make that difference is admirable to me irrespective of which side of the field you're standing on.

From a very early age, I've been under the impression it was rude to discuss politics in polite company. Your political agenda is your own private affair and no one else's business, which is why voting is normally done by a secret ballot at the polls.

The only political debates I was privy to growing up were the televised 'Question Time' debates conducted inside Parliament and done so with much enforced respect for opposing parties and the adjudicator - similar to the respect that's mandatory inside a court of law. Granted, all official party representatives are (supposed to be) a little more educated and informed on the issues at hand so there is less room for ignorance and stupidity ~ hence less provocation.

Regardless, I'm sure "You f$&%ing idiot!" has been on the tip of many a politician's tongue, but (unless their microphone is accidentally left on) they rarely say it out loud. This is more strategy than gentility, I'm sure, mainly because an angry outburst doesn't help. It's hard to top the opinion polls that way. We voters really do seem to be a bunch of hypocrites. We'll slander away in the privacy of our homes ~ and lie about our sexual relations ~ but woe betide the politician that does the same. We need a leader better than us, someone who has grace and control, someone to aspire to. That's why we like watching beautiful people on TV even though we claim we do not. I've seen Evita.

What scares me most of all about these heated Facebook debates is the term 'haters'. Hate is such a strong word. Do people really hate you for not sharing their political standpoint? If we were made to wear a different color T-shirt representing pro 'whatever' would we look at each other differently? Would we start to segregate? Reading some of the nastier comments on Facebook it's not so hard to understand how the Holocaust came about. Hate.

Aren't people afraid of what their opinions look like - captured permanently in Facebook syntax? The threat "I bet you daren't come over here and say that!" springs to mind. Sitting behind a keyboard and typing your sentiments gives a person a false sense of bravado. I'm a blogger ~ I know what I'm talking about. Reams and reams of Facebook evidence is now in existence to be used against any one of us in a court of law. Our urge to be heard on forums such as Facebook has taken away so much anonymity. Do we really need to go to the trouble of voting anymore? Let's just take a Facebook tally! I'm sure there's a pie chart underway somewhere in the Facebook research center showing the political party distribution of Facebook users ~ one 'like' or comment and you're already on it.

Facebook (much like Twitter) is arguably a modern-day top contending News resource - particularly for the younger generation. These days news travels faster than the media. The political awareness of the likes of me is definitely heightened by Facebook. With so many 'shares' and status updates it's hard for anyone to keep their head buried in the sand and even harder to maintain a neutral on-the-fence standpoint. The most interesting thing (for me) about this new-age propaganda source is the even distribution of party representation, at least on my page. Apparently I'll 'friend' just about anyone. Scrolling down my Newsfeed is not like reading a left wing newspaper, or reading a right wing web page. My 'friends' represent all different political walks of life.

And on Facebook a 'public' meeting really is just that. In real life Republicans don't generally go around gate crashing public Democratic meetings and vice-a-versa (I don't think). On Facebook, however, everyone feels free to stick their oar into 'public' events. I don't know how many times yesterday I read the rebuttal "Well, get off this page then!!!" A possible translation: I don't want to hear your opinion if it's different to mine.

I'm sure many people have tailored their own personal page to suit their own beliefs ~ it's much easier to do this on Facebook than in real life. Not democratic? Unfriend. Not Christian? Unfriend. You had what for breakfast??? Unfriend! And, frankly, I don't see anything wrong with that. We let our kids pick their own friends ~ I'd like to have that same freedom too. It makes no sense to be around people that make you feel worthless and zap your energy, so why allow those destructive forces onto your webpage. It is your webpage after all.

Unfriending is not the same as hating. Clicking unfriend - however hurtful it may be to the 'victim' - does not condemn that person to death; although after witnessing the unending list of 'hate' commentors yesterday, I'm not convinced there aren't millions of civilians out there who wouldn't thrive on such capital power.


  1. If you are looking for intelligent discourse, Facebook is not the place. I learned that several years ago when I found out that I am a Communist Liberal left wing wacko, for one opinion and a Neanderthal ignorant right wing religious right fanatic for another.

  2. Civil discourse can be so refreshing, but has become a rarity. It is frightening how a benign thread, news story, fbook post, or tweet can turn ugly in a split second once there's one angry post. The name calling is appalling. I've had to start tuning out the news to save my own sanity and stop reading comments. Many important voices go unheard because of intimidation.