It is still two months until the election cycle, but Facebook is alive and well with countless political updates, photos, and political debates. And I think a lot of people end up wondering “Am I really friends with this person?”
Don’t get me wrong, I love to talk about politics. I have very strong opinions which I am proud of and have no trouble expressing. As I report often on political situations around the world for several different news sources, I am also very read up on a wide variety of political situations around the world.
But I just draw the line at becoming overtly political on Facebook. And if you really want your friends to keep respecting you, you might consider doing the same. Why? Personally, I have a lot of friends who fall into a lot of different political persuasions. Yes I am almost as far left as you can come without being a Communist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have friends who are Libertarians, Republicans and even completely politically disinterested (they are the ones I struggle to understand the most!). Most of my friends who are politically interested and have an opinion, I consider to be well-read and smart individuals. I know they have not just jumped on some Fox News bandwagon. And I like to think they have a similar opinion of my beliefs. I respect them.
Here are some tips to keeping your friends on Facebook during an election year.
1) Don’t try to convince someone in three sentences or less – Political debates flare up all of the time; while it can be hard to bite your tongue, it might be a good idea to stay out. No one ever changed anyone’s mind in three sentences unless they had some other kind of power involved as well.
2) Don’t insult the other side – Chances are you have people in your Facebook feed who fall on all sides of the political spectrum. If you want to keep them, don’t post about how “all xyz’s have to be stupid to believe…..”
3) Share reputable news information – If you find an article or news item you really want to share, make sure it is from a reputable source. Don’t go posting things from Iloveobama.com or stopthesocialisttakeoverofourcountry.com. The other side will not take these seriously at all. Try legitimate media sources, Forbes, Salon, WSJ if you really want people to take notice of your article.
4) Realize you are probably preaching to the choir – If you spend a lot of time posting one-sided political articles and get a lot of likes and thumbs up, chances are you are just preaching to the choir. This is fine, if you are sure all of your friends are just like you. But you probably ended up getting defriended or at least being taken away from people’s newsfeed.
5) Like whatever you want – One way to show your political affiliation without flaunting it is to like a candidate. It shows up on your page and people can see your leanings without getting hit over the head. I will admit that anyone who likes Paul Ryan gets a little side-eye in my book, but I wouldn’t remove someone for that. Someone who posts hard-core anti Gay marriage propaganda, on the other hand, will be removed immediately. I don’t want that in my feed, thanks.
You may find it strange that a political blogger is giving advice to keep political debate off of Facebook, but to me we are talking about two different arenas. I blog about politics on a political blog. I am offering up a point of view and enjoy getting comments and reading discussion. But I am not going to throw my opinions in people’s faces when I don’t think they will appreciated. My good friends know where I stand and we can talk about these things in person if need be.
Until November, let’s all work together to make Facebook a nicer place to be.