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Facebook Politics

Oct 19th, 2012 | By | Category: Nick Kemper's Blog

We at TowPartsNow have a Facebook page, and you should check it out because whenever we add a new item or run a special, that’s where you will hear about it first. I also have a personal Facebook page and I occasionally visit it, but I have been very turned off by how it has become a forum for political dogma. I don’t know what you think Facebook is all about, but apparently some people think it is their soapbox and if you decide that you are tired of hearing about what they think you should do every 5 minutes and you switch them off, somehow that form of freedom of speech is different from the freedom of speech that permits them to spout off ad nauseam.


I just wonder, what is the thought process that leads to the FB post that takes a political stance? Let’s imagine that Joe Voter is sitting at his computer, and he has been committed to one particular political party for some time, and he sees a post of an opposing viewpoint from the guy who sat behind him in ninth grade algebra. Bells go off, trumpets blare, and Joe sits up, marches out, changes his party, and begins to fundraise.


Really? Come on. Have you ever logged on to Facebook hoping to read something funny from a distant friend, or see a photo of your nephew’s baby, and instead you get links to highly dubious websites that purport to reveal the “truth” about Candidate Z and you think, “What a pleasant surprise.” Doesn’t this happen to you?


This relates to one of my favorite ironic life situations: unsolicited advice from the unqualified person. Like the guy who can’t make his car payment telling you where you should invest your money. Or the person in terrible health telling you how to eat.


Now, do you immediately fall in line with whatever you read online? Do you jump on whatever bandwagon parks itself on your front lawn without your invitation? I think that most of us don’t. However, there are some who are easily swayed, or who have their beliefs reinforced by supporting data regardless of its accuracy. If you really care enough about politics or personal health or our educational system or whatever your passion is to post unsolicited advice about it online, is this the demographic you are targeting? Is that what you really want? To pack your bandwagon full of mindless followers?


Let’s look at it from another perspective. Say someone posts a link to a website “story” about some horrific acts of offensiveness committed by a politician or public figure. Is it responsible to immediately share that with everyone you know, without being skeptical and doing some research first? The Internet is a wonderful thing — never before has it been so easy to locate information. And misinformation. I used to run into a problem when I managed drivers of “reports” of misbehavior. Someone would tell me that so-and-so was camped across the street from a lot we patrolled, waiting for an unsuspecting ladybug to fly into the web, which is a no-no here in Oregon, or something along those lines. My problem stopped when I started clearing up the foggy reporting by pulling the accuser and the accused into a room together and putting the accuser on the spot. Now, I understand this might intimidate some from reporting an actual violation, because they don’t like confrontation, but it worked better than what I was doing before. Now, you can’t find the guy who created the “news” site that seems dedicated to smearing one particular group or party or politician to put him on the spot, even if you want to, so what do you do?


It seems to me we no longer have the patience to slow down and do things the right way. You can’t post on Facebook that you know the best way to solve a health problem and then make irresponsible recommendations. You have to be qualified to make those recommendations, or you could hurt someone. So you have to be educated, certified (maybe), and demonstrate proficiency. Shouldn’t that be true for everything, or as much as possible? And if you want people to be able to make educated decisions about what they should believe, shouldn’t you first point them in the direction of resources that teach critical thinking and research techniques? Then maybe you can make the attempt to brainwash, and see how solid your ground is.


I’m not going to share my political views here, and I hope I haven’t revealed them somehow, except for this: in this global, online, instant gratification world, I wonder if we are too focused on the distance. When you are working on a project with a neighbor, or cleaning up trash somewhere with your church group, or coaching a group of kids on the baseball diamond, is there any better way to be effective, to have an impact? Don’t you feel more connected when you get away from the screens in your life and make direct contact with humans? Why is it that our foods are so unhealthy for us now when they come from another state, or country, or continent, but if you go down to the local farmer’s market, you find something that reminds you how fruit is supposed to taste? Hmmm … I wonder. Could it be the absence of a multi-conglomerate between you and the product?


Go local. It’s more rewarding.


Have a safe and profitable week.


Nick Kemper