Friday, September 07, 2012

Silly Season (On Facebook)

I recently commented to my mother that I wished there was a way to set Facebook to "block all political commentary". She laughed and said, "Actually, you can."  For a half a second I was seriously excited, imagining a Facebook page free of political rhetoric.

*cue heavenly voices and harps* 

Then she explained to me about the list feature on Facebook (Oh. That's what that's for). Turns out it doesn't so much block the political spamming as it does let you make a list of people who aren't guilty of it.

Stand down heavenly orchestra

*Sad toots, twanging strings, and disappointed moans*

Sorry guys. 

Look, just like everybody else. I've got political opinions. Every once in a while I will post my thoughts here. I think the last time I did this was back in the fall of '08--or maybe it was in 09 when the health care bill was a hot topic. I am a woman in possession of many strong opinions, but when it comes to politics--I am generally silent.

For the record, I will be voting for Obama again. And I expect to be just as much of an outsider where I live as I was last time (this includes in my home as my husband and I don't share the same political views). I'm okay with that and it's nothing new. However I'm not okay with being told that I'm condemning our country to failure, that I'm advocating socialism (and thus communism which always includes the government taking away our guns and requiring us all to wear tracking chips), baby killing, and --what was the other one I heard?-- putting Muslims in power.

Seriously. People said things like this. More than once. 'Shocked me too.

But's it been a few years now and the passions had settled to an occasional blip or a stray email here and there. I knew that there were a lot of unhappy people (mostly those whose candidate didn't win in 2008), but they mostly kept their thoughts to themselves. It's been a nice break.

However with Silly Season upon us once again, my Facebook page  is flooded with mini-posters and slogans and people waving banners: Birthers, Tea Party members,  people who view every single thing Obama says or does as proof of the fact that he's a closet Muslim, people who are just sure Romney was a draft-dodging elitist, and people who ask politically charged questions and go on the attack when someone's reply clashes with their own. It's like a carnival without the fun rides. Or happy people.

Does anyone remember the old southern rule about politics being too dirty a subject to discuss in polite company? Does anyone remember why? Because people get so passionate about it that they forget their manners. They say things that they regret later. When I was a kid my parents taught me that it was rude to ask people who they voted for (or who they will vote for). It was explained to me that voting was a private affair. I miss this nicety.

I'm taking my Mom's advice. Though I love all of the people on my friend's list, I'm setting up a temporary separate list of people who don't routinely post political spam. And when it gets to be too much out there on the big page where "everybody" lives, I can go to that "room" and pretend that Silly Season is past and that we're all one big happy family and that no one cares whose candidate won. Like their only concern is whether or not everyone saw the newest beautiful picture of their kids (or vacation, or puppy, or even someone else's beautiful photo of a moon or sunset), for those who just want to write a few lines about their day or a deep (or not so deep) thought they had.  Because that's the stuff of conversation. And in that room, I'm going to invite my heavenly orchestra to play. Because that's what heaven kind of looks like to me.

*Orchestra cheers and begins to sing and play Handel's Hallelujah Chorus*


Stacey Roberts said...

I didn't know it until today, but I LOVE a blog with sound effects.

On the serious issues at hand, let me just say that until we as responsible citizens of a great nation are able to have grown-up discussions about politics, this will always be the Silly Season. Our country has real and immediate problems. Questions of Obama's birthplace or Romney's tax returns are simply distractions engineered to keep us away from the real issues we face like our staggering debt, terrorism, energy independence, and the future we create for our children.

Kudos to Mary for an elegant, heartfelt posting. With musical accompaniment.

Debby said...

Do you notice that on your facebook, people of differing viewpoints are having a discussion about politics and no one is calling anyone any names? That's a proud moment.

Mary O. Paddock said...

Stacey--You've said this all very well and expressed my sentiments better than I could have myself. Thanks for contributing to the conversation on FB in such a thoughtful and intelligent way.

Hi Deb! I have been watching and was completely contented to let the conversation unfold. It really was a beautiful thing.