Political discussions on Facebook = Sticks and stones

Friday, September 25, 2015

In some recent posts on Facebook, several friends were verbally sparring over differing political viewpoints. Finally, a different Facebook friend posted a statement that attempted, so to speak, to try and "calm the waters." Sorry good friend that will probably never happen. We can, however, feel somewhat encouraged. The stinging words of political rhetoric generally remain just that, "words." We Americans argue politics as if it was a religion. Thankfully, these barbs remain in the realm of the old adage, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

In an article several years ago, I wrote about this same type of subject. In that story, I used both religious and political perspectives to try and emphasize my point.

I offered the following experiment to seek the desired results. Pretend for a moment that you are in any public gathering. A ball game, a church meeting, a club meeting, a restaurant, or any such place, that would host a modest crowd of people, preferably from our local area.

Next, look at each of these people intently. Single out several individuals who seem somewhat familiar. You know the type I am talking about. Persons you have recognized many times, but who you would never classify as being close friends.

Next, I ask you to try and determine some insights, simply from their appearance in dress, mannerisms, or any of a multitude of impressions they might present to you. Now, try and guess several simple personal traits from these same observations.

Are they married, single, straight, or gay? Can you tell which faith they practice, Baptist, Christian, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish, or Muslim? What about their politics? Are they a conservative Republican, liberal Democrat, or that rarest bird of political leanings, an Independent?

Most everyone who stops to consider these requests, realizes almost immediately, that there are few distinguishing behaviors, dress, mannerisms, etc. etc., that give us a clue, as to just who and what type of person we are actually dealing with.

Despite the results of this test, most of us tend to place our acquaintances into defined areas of perception, based merely upon their social, religious, political, or lifestyle relationships.

People we may know well, and with whom we might enjoy a variety of social and personal events, suddenly become "persona non grata," owing only to their association with some different group or affiliation. They are a Republican, Democrat, Baptist, etc., etc., and thus we no longer trust them.

Religion was for centuries the most divisive of institutions. I can still remember as a young kid from a protestant home, being encouraged, not to develop friendships with Catholic children. Even among protestant faiths during my youth, there were widely held beliefs, that only your particular church was privy to the real true gospel.

In his Manifesto, Karl Marx once described religion as the opiate of the masses. Luckily for those masses, religion has outlasted the Communist Doctrine.

Many sociologists look at the way our citizens follow politics in the America of today, almost as if it is equivalent to the practice of a religion. The emotional attachment that many average Americans attach to their political beliefs is both profound and dogmatic.

A few years ago, I joined Facebook. It was enjoyable for the most part, with the exception of a few individuals, who posted almost every mundane event of their daily lives. Still, that social network was both pleasurable, and it offered me a lot of news from friends, that I would never have known otherwise.

Now that comfortable relationship has changed for me, and not for the better. Increasingly, I find daily political offerings posted on Facebook. Some of these are reprints of items that either left or right leaning media outlets have aired.

Other postings have become these verbal debating sessions, between Facebook friends, who have opposing leanings, to one political slant or the other. It has reached the point, where I simply no longer read any of the posts from these same Facebook friends, because I don't want to hear the war of words anymore.

I have discovered that I am becoming a political news anti-junky. For years I have followed the news via newspapers, radio, and television. These days I prefer to watch the History Channel or maybe even a silly venue such as the "Ice Road Truckers!"

Someone asked me if I watched the presidential debates. They seemed shocked at my answer... "No. I watched the Royals game, and why would I want to watch debates anyway, the elections are close to 14 months away?"

If there was ever evidence to support my premise, that we Americans are addicted to politics, it is the timing of these current debates. I for one wish that there was a law that says you can't begin a campaign for president or any other office, until six months before the election.

I also wish that they had a maximum amount that could be spent on campaign television ads. It won't happen, because these 24-hour news channels would go broke without all those ads!

The most important thing I want is for my friends and acquaintances to stop trying to convince me about either viewpoint. I don't want to hear this political drivel, and your continued wrangling with each other on Facebook, is literally driving me to the point of removing you from my friends list.

We are all Americans, and we all love our freedom and our democratic system of elections and government. If you want to get involved and campaign, be my guest. Just please don't invade my Facebook and email with your quest everyday.

Send me jokes, invites, party pictures, and any number of enjoyable items, but leave your politics to another venue. You're never ending posts and rants, are sadly becoming a lot like real "sticks and stones!"