Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Posters on my Wall: A Liberal's Agenda on Facebook

I'm a liberal and I have an agenda.

Ok, I don't really have an "agenda." But I have a lot of opinions on what's right and wrong and I read a lot. When I find an article that I like on the Internet, I like to put it up on my Facebook wall where I can easily find it and where other people who might be interested can see it and read it too. Because to me, one of the values of social networking, is being able to share with my friends and see the things they'd like to share with me. Sometimes I just post stuff because I see it on a site, don't have time to read it, and want to remember to go back later.

Since I'm a liberal, and might I say that I'm probably more liberal than many, a lot of the articles I post have (surprise!) a liberal bent. I believe in unions, collective bargaining, and workers rights. I'm pro-choice and feminist. I’m sex positive and pro-sex education. I don't go to church but if I did I'd be Unitarian, although I only half jokingly refer to myself as pagan. I am a supporter of public schools and teachers and I believe our educational system is failing our kids not because of "bad teachers," but because lawmakers are trying (and failing) to legislate learning. I vote Democrat. I support small farms and local businesses and I recycle. I think gay people should be able to get married and sick people should be able to smoke pot. I feel that health insurance is a right, not a privilege, and addiction is a disease, not a choice. (And by the way, I'm not interested in taking your guns away. I like to shoot and I'm good at it.)

I like to read about all of those subjects, along with art, science, Apple, literature, LOL cats, religion, philosophy, food, dysfunction, crime, and lists from the editors at Cracked.com and product descriptions from the geniuses at Woot! and ThinkGeek, along with a million other semi-relevant topics. I’m diverse that way and a lot of what I find interesting makes it to my facebook wall in the form of a shared link. Sometimes my shares get people talking, and sometimes they just serve as markers of something that caught my attention for a few stay minutes of the day. I like to think that my facebook wall serves as a sort of time capsule of my interests over time.

The problem with my more political postings, however, is that not all of my friends are liberal. Some are pretty middle of the road and some are conservative either in economics, social issues, or both. Most of the time, things stay pretty civil. Friends are friends for a reason, and politics and religion, while they can bind, can also sever relationships, so I try and balance presenting the issues I care about with the feelings of the people I like. I'm not usually offended by conservative friends. The problem is that it seems when I post anything of a political content, people seem to feel the need to argue politics. I don't mind an occasional exchange of ideas as long as things stay civil. I realize other people have opinions that differ from mine and I respect that. Sometimes I'm interested hearing their ideas on things and sometimes I'm not. I'll carry a discussion so far, but if it turns into an argument, I'll just agree to disagree.

Because I don't want to argue politics, some people have implied that I shouldn't post about it either. I'm not sure I follow that logic. The reason I don't like to argue politics is that I won't be changing my mind. I feel the way I do about most issues not because I'm "towing the party line," but because I've thought them through, researched them, and/or experienced them myself. It's not often that I change my mind on a particular topic, although when I have in the past, it's certainly wasn't because I was badgered into doing so. I'm also not posting about politics to bait anyone, or "stir things up." Everyone has had different experiences and, hopefully, formed their own opinions accordingly. I'm always happy to explain why I feel a certain way about something, but I find arguing politics exhausting and pointless. Will I talk politics? Yes, usually I will. I enjoy talking with other liberals, just as history buffs like talking to other history buffs and musicians like talking music. I also enjoy talking with some of my conservative friends because there are issues that we see eye to eye on and it's interesting to find out where people's values and experiences have led them because we all come by these things in different ways.

I look at it this way; Facebook is kind of like a big house that we all live in together. There are common areas and private areas. My profile is my private area, my room. Posts are like posters we put on the walls of our rooms. I can put whatever posters on my wall that I want. I promise not to put my posters on your wall, unless I know you'll like them too. If you're my friend, you're invited into my space but I don't need you to tell me I have bad taste in posters. If you don't want to look at them, you can simply not enter my room by blocking posts by me from reaching your news feed. If you feel really strongly, you can just unfriend me. Or you can be tolerant, as I promise to be of you. If you start posting about how you hate Jews/gays/Mexicans/Muslims/Lolcats, and they should all be lined up and shot, chances are I'm going to unfriend you because I find intolerance and ignorance deeply offensive. I won't unfriend you based on the fact that we vote for different candidates or we don't agree on issues like abortion or economic policy.

I won't unfriend you, but I probably won't take the bait either. I hope you understand.


  1. I agree, that Facebook's ability to let us share information and viewpoints is vital, and it's one of the characteristics that keeps me coming back (repeatedly, some would say obsessively). The fun ends when some people don't know the difference between 'discussion' and 'knock-down, drag-out knee-cap-biting fight' and their attacks on others quickly become personal. That really makes the entire experience distasteful and counterproductive.

  2. Exactly. I don't want to fight with friends. If I wanted to beat my head against the wall arguing politics I'd comment on local news websites. :)

  3. Wow, you are far more practiced at being on facebook than I. I find the endless flag waving from most of my 240 some 'friends' annoying as all hell since I know that our country seems to consistently be doing a lot of questionable and outright nasty things in our name. I find myself reminding many of them that facebook is an international forum now and we should mind that we share this world and site with many people who see things very differently, (and frequently clearer as they have media not tainted by capitalist interests). I state my case clearly with facts, history, etc. and warn people not to argue with me unless they have done their homework. I've lost a few because they couldn't survive the bright light of logic and truth. They often want to muddle the dabate with sappy sentiment and shallow, knee jerk patriotism. It's sad really because it seems like the general level of intelligence there is lacking. It shouldn't be that way in one of the richest countries on the planet. Thankfully I have found a few good souls, not above admitting when they are wrong or being open to learning a few things, or that already understand what I'm saying, thanks for joining my 'friends' list. :)

  4. Oh my, blogger... I just typed a long reply to you and blogger saw fit to bounce it into the ether. That's the karma for neglecting my blog the last few weeks I guess. I'll come back later when karma has finished taking her pound of flesh! :)

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