By Nick Boyer
I confess. I am that annoying Facebook political activist. You know, the one who posts random digs at the other side for being nearsighted, wrong for America and ignoramuses. Why do I do it? Do I really think my political posts will change the planet? Yes, I do! I think that those innocent, naïve friends who log in to see posts of their niece’s first-day-of-school pictures or updates from their ex-girlfriend’s vacation are ready to harvest for my political reaping.
“They aren’t informed!” I tell myself. “I must do something! Aha! This tidbit of political reading has the Facebook share button. Now, the world will know how wrong the other side is! Victory!” I think to myself.
And with this brief sense of righteous indignation in every post, I find myself that much closer to being the next Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, Jr. changing the world. Nobody is safe from this opinionated college kid who just recycled something from the 24-hour-news cycle.
Sometimes, I’ll see another Facebook political activist like myself, cluttering up my wall with their nonsense and disappointing understanding of the facts. Do I block, respond or ignore? Respond (after a quick Google search of my side’s spin on the story), then the debate is on. I discuss with a precision of the right amount of sincerity and sarcasm. Then, I jump around topics once the well runs dry. I can go from abortion to war, over to taxes and out-of-context sound bites in just under three replies. Finally, I dangle some disagreeing anecdote for my opponent, enticing them to keep the back and forth going.
Whether the debate is from a genuine friend or random acquaintance from an old job, the rules are the same: Do not lose face in front of everyone else. If you are obviously inferior in the debate, just say something from a bumper sticker or t-shirt you saw once. Then, leave by saying something along the lines of agreeing to disagree or pretending that you don’t like to debate online because it escalates extremely fast, gets personally offensive and makes you want to deactivate your account.
Nobody is really the winner of these debates because people aren’t as open minded as they like to think, and people would much rather listen to something that validates their existing views than question their world view. Convenience is very fertile ground for beliefs. In today’s world, Facebook is very convenient for being the political activist you think you are without any of the work, and possibly without any of your friends.