Faithful Politics

Being faithful with our politics, not political with our faith.

How To Survive Election Season Without Losing All Of Your Facebook Friends

As November 6th draws closer, my Facebook news feed is gradually being invaded by politically-related posts. The opinions expressed in these posts run the gamut- from expressions of support for one candidate or another, criticism about one candidate or another, as well as laments of a loss of faith in the entire political system.

But there’s another kind of political post that I’ve seen a lot of, too- and I imagine some of you have as well. It’s a post along the lines of, “If I see one more post about politics, I’m going to start deleting people.”  You’re not the only one out there who wants to get rid of political posts on Facebook- in fact, there’s an app for that.

Now, I certainly understand the sentiment here. It does get tiresome seeing so many political posts, especially when I’m really just on Facebook to catch up with what is going on in my friends’ lives, not to get into complex and controversial political issues.  But when we do post politically-related opinions on Facebook, or when we choose to interact with posts from other friends, I think there are some guidelines we can follow to make it more bearable for all of us.  Here are four ways that we can help make sure we survive this election season without losing all of our Facebook friends:

When you post…

Provide context for your views. Avoid posting statements such as, “This guy is such an idiot!” or “If you support that candidate, you must be crazy.” These statements alienate those who might not agree with you, and they don’t provide much of an opening for civil dialogue. Rather, try to give an explanation for why you lean the way you do, and welcome others to chime in with their own perspectives.

Fact check. Don’t just regurgitate something you have seen posted elsewhere on Facebook or on the Internet without checking into it yourself. I’ll be the first to admit that fact-checking on the Internet is intimidating; there is just so much information out there and so many different views expressed, so it’s not always easy. But it doesn’t take too long to do a little bit of Google searching to make sure that what you are posting is a factual representation of a certain situation or candidate’s view.

When you respond to others’ posts….

Engage in respectful dialogue This applies at all times, but especially when you disagree with someone! Feeling virulently against someone else’s views is all the more reason to deeply consider your reaction. The platform of the Internet adds another level here, because  it is generally much easier to type an angry response and just press “enter” than it would be to say the same thing to someone’s face. But even if you are so outraged that you think you really would say something to someone’s face, make sure you’re still treating others the way you would like to be treated.

Give every view equal consideration This is something I have been actively trying to practice lately. No matter how much I might disagree with someone’s view, I do my best to truly consider what they are saying, weighing it out in my mind and trying to understand where they might be coming from. Our culture and the media definitely do nothing to encourage this practice- divisiveness makes for more “sensational” news than respectful dialogue- but we can each do our part to show that it is possible to respect all views and work toward understanding together.

It is an unavoidable fact that Facebook is now another public forum in our lives- it is the new proverbial water cooler, and we are responsible for our actions in this forum in just the same way as we are in real life. If and when we choose to express our political opinions, let’s work toward respect, open dialogue and understanding, and we will make it through this election season with all of our Facebook friendships intact.

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