Reluctant Townie: How to talk about politics on Facebook
The federal government shut down last week as a result of House Republicans choosing to hold the economy hostage as a last-ditch effort to gut President Obama's Affordable Care Act.
However you choose to feel about that is your own business, but many of you have decided to share those feelings publicly on Facebook. It should be noted that talking about politics on Facebook can be dangerous business if you don't know what you're doing.
So this week I've put together a guide to walk you through the process.
The first rule of talking politics on Facebook is you do not talk about politics on Facebook.
The second rule of talking politics on Facebook is you DO NOT talk about politics on Facebook.
Still with me? You really want to crack open this can of worms? All right, let's go then.
Before you decide to talk politics on Facebook, there are some questions you should ask yourself: Are other people talking about politics on Facebook? Has a newsworthy and politically divisive event just occurred? Do I have Internet access?
If the answer to all the above is "Yes," then you're good to go.
Pick the side of the issue most congruent with your personal beliefs and social standing. How do you know which side is for you?
Are you a rich person who thinks poor people are a blight on society, and you want to do what you want to do when you want to do it, no matter the consequences to the environment or the people around you? Then you might try looking into the Republican platform.
Are you an idealistic poor person (or soon to be enslaved for the rest of your life to student loan debt) who thinks rich people are exactly what's wrong with everything, and you want everybody to be happy all the time while dancing in makeshift drum circles with no regard to the fact that reality has proven that goal to be fundamentally unachievable? Maybe you should look into the Democrats.
Make sure you're informed about the political subject you're talking about — or, at the very least, armed with cherry-picked facts that support your bias.
Sound bites are better for modern political arguments than in-depth discussion. Ain't nobody got time for paragraphs and analysis!
This is important because your debate opponents are going to come out of the woodwork and hurl factoids at you like orcs attacking Helm's Deep, and you better return fire or face quick defeat. (Your response will be time-stamped and preserved in digital record forevermore.)
Post links to news articles and opinion pieces that support your arguments, even though you know your debate opponent will not take time to read them because they can't stop to read 2,500 words on Forbes or they'll lose their momentum. This is the bait.
Know the right Obama slur for the occasion. There are all sorts of colorful, dismissive nicknames for our president. A short, helpful guide you can keep in your wallet:
— "Nobama": This sly portmanteau went out of style after the 2012 election, but dust it off whenever you're feeling nostalgic for the good old days.
— "Obummer": Use this clever and emotionally descriptive nickname when talking about a situation in which the president let you down. For example: "Now that Obamacare is in effect, I cannot be denied health coverage based on a pre-existing condition. Welcome to the New World Order. Thanks a lot, Obummer!"
— "Barack HUSSEIN Obama": When you want to highlight the fact that you think the president is a secret Muslim antichrist hellbent on destroying America ... in a subtle manner.
— "Odumbo": Get it? Because of his ears! But also, because Dumbo means "stupid." See what I did there? Two for one.
— "Ohitler": I believe it was Aristotle who said, "When all else fails, call the other guy a Nazi."
Be prepared to discover things about people you thought you knew. Even family.
Know your threshold for "defriending." How many Facebook friends can you stand to lose this week? That number can be easily obtained by subtracting the number of friends you added in the past 30 days and dividing the remainder by the number of people who posted a "Happy Birthday" message on your timeline this year.
Speak as though you're talking to yourself and no one else is around. Facebook should be treated like your diary. Hold nothing back. Let your opinion streak butt-naked across the laptops and smartphones of everyone you've ever known well enough to request electronic access to their personal photos and musings.
Take no prisoners. Make sure to get into it with family members and co-workers — people who you see on a regular and involuntary basis.
Ultimately, talking about politics on Facebook will reveal itself to be a futile exercise. Like Congress, people seemed pretty divided and unwilling to compromise on their beliefs, regardless of how little those beliefs are based in fact.
Be forewarned: The level of misinformation and willful ignorance out there is staggering.
Our national mentality is, "Why read the book when you can buy the Cliff's Notes?" We are a society of multiple-choice test takers. We don't learn, we memorize. Like parrots.
It's important to take regular inventory of your belief system. Why do you believe the things you do? Ask yourself this, at night, when you're alone, when you have time to mull it over — and don't be afraid to answer honestly.
You might just find someone else has put thoughts in your head and words in your mouth.
Ryan Jackson thinks someone should give Ted Cruz a wedgie and take his lunch money for the week, and he can be flamed at firstname.lastname@example.org.