The New York Post
October 10, 2016
This year’s presidential election seems to be more divisive and personal — friendships fraying, families fighting and acquaintances going their separate ways — than in years past. And nowhere is that more apparent than on Facebook.
Facebook isn’t for politics — or at least, it shouldn’t be. This is hard for people to understand because politics has otherwise permeated every part of our culture, so why not the most social of social media?
Musicians lecture from the concert stage, professors sidebar their opinions in class, religious leaders deliver whole sermons about presidential candidates from the pulpit.
People assume it’s normal to agitate for a candidate no matter their job and post positive information about their pick and negative information about the other guy (or gal).
The articles, the GIFs and the “this late-night comedian just DEMOLISHED the candidate I don’t like” viral videos have become part and parcel of Facebook posts during the never-ending election season.
The best reason to join Facebook is to reconnect with your best friend from first grade or to stay in touch with those crazy Australians you met while traveling in Europe that summer. It’s a way to socialize with a lot of people all at once.
Sure, you can e-mail a picture of your new baby to everyone you’ve ever met. But why not post it on Facebook and let the adoring comments roll in? The latter is just easier and more convenient for everyone involved. Facebook is a way of hanging out with everyone you ever met and political ranting makes the whole thing . . . awkward.
Plus, posting about politics is boring. Mostly because you’re boring. Sorry: Your regurgitated talking points and huffy endorsement aren’t swinging votes. No one’s waiting for you to weigh in with daily updates on why your candidate is great.
Spare everyone the argument that you just feel like you “have to” speak up because this election is so important. Everyone already knows the importance of this, and every, election. You told us this in 2012, remember? And 2008.
You don’t need to enrage your great-aunt Ida, who thinks Donald Trump will launch nukes the very day he takes office, by posting how you’re still a Bernie bro. Your co-worker from three jobs ago doesn’t care you think Hillary Clinton’s The! Most! Qualified! Presidential! Candidate! Ever! You haven’t found the smoking gun in Hillary’s e-mails, either; sorry, gumshoe.
Besides, you’re probably preaching to the choir and your friends who disagree with you have long ago silenced your missives. Facebook introduced the “unfollow” option in 2013.
This allows people to essentially mute their friends without permanently unfriending them. A Pew study from 2014 found that about a quarter of Facebook users have blocked people over political disagreements. And that’s before the election really got into high gear. It’s easy to imagine that number being higher now.
A different Pew survey from August found that nearly half of Clinton supporters don’t have any friends who support Trump and 31 percent of Trump supporters don’t know anyone voting for Hillary. We’re already in our bubbles, why make it worse with your ranting?
You’re ruining Facebook. Stop it.
And while you’re at it, stop ruining other parts of your life, too. Stop talking about politics at parties or at work. Arguing about politics has its time and place. That time is anytime you want and that place is Twitter.
Facebook is for new babies, a song of the day, vacation pictures. Twitter is the place to engage about politics. “But I don’t know how to use Twitter.” Well, if you’re posting about politics on Facebook then you don’t know how to use Facebook, either. And distilling your political opinions into 140 characters is a skill many of you could stand to learn.
Politics isn’t everything, and that should be reflected in your Facebook posts. It’s OK to have the occasional post about the election, but even a few times a week is too much.
The election will hopefully end someday and you want to still have your friends on the other side. So post a picture of your lunch instead of the latest Trump meme, or alert your friends to an article that has nothing to do with politics. Let politics become a subject in the background of your life.
Where it belongs.
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