Facebook and Politics: Is There Anything to Like?

Social Media Politics

This week, Kat of Mama’s Losin’ It encouraged us to write to this prompt: 10 things you have learned about politics from Facebook.

ONE: Zero Minds have Ever Been Changed Because of a Facebook Share

Social Media Politics

There have been many opinions and information pieces shared on Facebook which did change my mind or at least inform me. I’ve learned about the intensely stressful emotional, financial, and physical price of invisible illnesses. I’ve learned about laudable causes to support, inspirational athletes to encourage, great recipes. I’ve read nothing that, by itself, reversed how I felt about an issue or candidate (especially a Presidential candidate).

TWO: Private Messaging Has the Potential to Change My Mind And Is Appreciated

Our primary is August 30 (I voted early (hooray!)). A few days ago, a good friend sent me a private message in which she shared her support of a candidate for a local race and why she felt that way. I am sure it was cut and pasted; it wasn’t composed exclusively for me. However, since she took the time to choose me rather than throwing the message out to the universe and hoping it would stick, I did take notice and thank her, sincerely.

THREE: It Matters When Candidates Interact Directly

I know this is a bit of a hypothetical. I don’t expect national or statewide candidates to interact directly. Again, staying with the “wouldn’t it be nice,” when I think about how much I love it when authors interact with me directly via social media, it strikes me how much it would matter if a candidate responded directly to me on social media.

FOUR: You Learn A Lot About Each Other

Have you ever seen a friend post their support for a candidate on social media and been shocked because their post seemed so incongruous with what you know about them? Me too. My choice in that situation is typically to file that piece of knowledge away rather than fire a volley across the tennis court of social media discourse (See Number One).

FIVE: Facebook Live Gives Us Access We Wouldn’t Otherwise Have

I have found it useful that the Tallahassee Democrat has provided access to their candidate forums via Facebook Live. Doing so makes it more possible for potential voters who can’t attend a rally or forum in person to hear where the candidates stand on various issues.

Six: Your “Friend” Count Is Likely to Fluctuate In Correlation to Your Politics

I don’t post much political material on Facebook. The main candidate I post frequently about is someone I can’t even vote for (DeeDee Rasmussen, candidate for School Board District 4). Otherwise, Rule Number 1 frequently compels me not to even waste the keystrokes. This may be keeping my friend count on an even keel, but I know Facebook friendships have been lost and gained this election season.

SEVEN: Every Vote Matters

I suppose this isn’t exactly a lesson learned from Facebook, but it is one that is reinforced. I may disagree with you, I may scroll past your diatribe, I may “like” your post because I agree. I may privately shake my head and wonder how you can believe that individual will make America great again or I may privately rejoice that you, like me, are #WithHer. What I will NOT do is be sad that you plan to vote. It’s so fundamental. In the most divisive of times I will still give you a ride to the poll or do what it takes to get you there. People in some countries have given their lives for the same privilege.

Eight: There ARE Some Trustworthy Experts Out There, And Facebook Gives You Access to Them

Case in point: Steve Schale. Although I usually pick him up on Facebook, you can also find him on Twitter here.

Second example: Nicholas Kristof.  One reader’s sentiment echoed mine: Thank God for your passionate journalism. Sometimes I don’t agree with you but I always respect you. Never stop doing what you do. It SO matters.

If I could think of others, I would share them. But I can’t. That’s how rare it is to find a trustworthy political expert on Facebook.

Nine: Facebook is Woefully Inadequate as a Source of Political Information

Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to be a part of a candidates’ forum at WFSU sponsored by the League of Women Voters. I am happy I got to hear so many candidates, even if they each only had two minutes. I saw such a broad array of this county’s candidates. Even the ones I could not vote for or disagreed with I gained a new respect for. Even if I had watched something like that on Facebook Live, nothing would have equaled the electricity in the room or the very American sensation of knowing that everyone who had qualified to run and accepted the invitation was getting an opportunity to put themselves out there.

Ten: Personal Action on Issues Matters

A few weeks ago, I learned from a Facebook (and real life) friend of a September opportunity that she was not going to be able to pursue, that might interest me. I quickly researched the opportunity, applied, and was accepted to be part of the Moms Rising contingent at We Won’t Wait 2016, a gathering where 1,000 community leaders and organizers from around the country will elevate the voices of women of color and low-income women and call for a comprehensive women’s economic agenda that will advance the lives of working women and families across the country.

I’m so excited to hear these women’s stories and be a part of making our nation better and more equitable for working women and families.

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Given Rule #1 (above), you can bet I’ll be sharing about what I learn other places in addition to Facebook!

How about you? Has your mind ever been changed about something political by a Facebook post?

Social Media Politics

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16 thoughts on “Facebook and Politics: Is There Anything to Like?

  1. My mind has never been changed by a Facebook post, even those by a friend who is working for the campaign of one of the third party candidates. Rather, I decided to scroll on by so many posts, and had to block a friend (for posts I considered purely hateful). Lately it seems to have calmed down some – at least on my wall. If I did receive a DM, and if it wasn’t obviously a copy and paste I would give it attention.

    • Thx for commenting. I ran out of space to mention this (or just didn’t…) but I have muted a few people — I am willing to listen/read/keep on scrolling even for positions/candidates that are diametrically opposed to me but once the horrid disrespect line gets crossed, I get pretty disgusted. // I’m looking forward to getting back to all the cute puppy videos!

  2. My mind has not been changed by a Facebook post. I have read thoughts of others on their political views and sometimes I comment and sometimes not. If I find their leanings to be unlike mine sometimes that explains their posts or comments me, but I won’t engage in a political discourse with them on Facebook.

    • Great thoughts. I didn’t end up exploring this as much as I originally thought I would, but I have been TRULY surprised by some views/preferences, and that led me to think about ALL the times I had said something, believing they were aligned with my views. It seems like they feel safer being more honest about their feelings when it is getting thrown out to the universe on a screen rather than said face to face. I can understand that to an extent ….

  3. I was thankful for the Olympics. It caused us to forget the politics for two weeks. It was uplifting and motivating. The presidential race always brings about such hurt.

    • Oh yes I felt the same way about the Olympics! What a welcome and (mostly) uplifting distraction. I am sad that people who value one another (usually) say such destructive things from behind the shelter of a screen.

  4. I’ve not had my mind changed but I have been kicked into action. Usually to research what I’ve read to see if it is actually true. And what I’ve found is: that much of it isn’t.

    • You know, that is a good point. I agree that occasionally people have shared personal experiences that shed additional light on an issue or candidate, and those are occasionally useful to me in making a decision.

  5. I believe that knowledge is power. So, I do read EVERYTHING I can. Then I reflect on it – try to figure out what is real and what is BS. Sometimes that is tough, so I find myself researching this or that. Hearing other people’s thoughts and different perspectives on an issue does help me form my own opinion.

    • That’s a GREAT perspective, Ellen. I’m on email lists for a variety of candidates/issues, some of which I support and some of which I don’t but it is valuable to hear all the perspectives.

  6. I have to agree with Ellen. Generally, I never usually post anything political but this election is different than any I’ve ever seen. Facebook has been a source of information, humor and finding out who you really want as friends. It gets frustrating but it’s also been enlightening. You have to be able to know what’s true and what is not. I too enjoyed the Olympic break but I’ve also found links to info I may not have seen. Facebook is a cocktail party. Some party animals are more drunk than others.

  7. Not by Facebook posts, but perhaps some do because they are uninformed. My vote will be casted after much prayer and voting for who I think will change this country and place supreme court justices that will be gone long after me, but who support my values.

    • Thanks so much for your comment. I pray about my political choices (and all my big choices) as well. I am glad we live in a country where we can ALL be a part of changing the country, whether we take elected office or not.

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