Facebook Politics

Regular reader The Manc left this comment under yesterday’s post:

Over the last few months three different people have posted something on my Facebook feed along the lines of “we needn’t worry about terrorism because far more people die in car accidents each day”. They are the kind of otherwise highly intelligent people that would pull that statement apart if it was posted in relation to anything else. I actually find it quite offensive, in the old fashioned sense of the word.

I might have said this before but I think that it’s difficult to respond to social media posts like that in case it ends up in a public argument in front of everyone you know with a bunch of people you have never met.

Political posts on Facebook are about as appealing as a Mexican karaoke night. I got so fed up with it I wrote the posted the following rant on my own account a few months back:

Can I just say something to all those people who post political stuff on Facebook?

Most of what is posted is of a quality consistent with that of a high school debating class, relying on third-hand opinions, anecdotes, and sources which lost their credibility back when The Spice Girls were popular. None of what I read is new: they are the same tired tropes wheeled out again and again, subjects which have been done to death on forums, blogs, and chat rooms since the day the internet was born. If any of this was posted outside of Facebook and subject to public scrutiny it would be torn to shreds within a matter of seconds and the author would be made to look so ill-informed and stupid they’d probably only do it once. The reason this doesn’t happen on Facebook is because family members and friends are too polite, and have too much invested in the real-life relationships, to risk upsetting them by challenging bullshit. Most people would roll their eyes and move on.

Unfortunately, a few likes and suddenly people think their opinions are popular and they’re offering valuable insight. But no, most people I speak to are beginning to realise how much politics on Facebook make their real-life friends and acquaintances come across as real dicks. I confess I have occasionally posted political stuff on here, but I ought not to have done. If anybody thinks their political opinions are worth listening to, put them in front of a public audience first: join a forum, start a blog, open a Twitter account. Thrash out the ideas first so at least you get some proper, unvarnished feedback before peddling high-school crap to friends and family who only connected with you because up until then you seemed all right.

Please, Facebook politics is the worst kind. It’s a terrible forum for it, and you’ll end up believing your own bullshit and losing friends.

It didn’t change anything. One person in particular is a gay man from an authoritarian, Muslim former Soviet Republic who went to New York on a tourist visa and quite deliberately overstayed so he is now living there illegally. His Facebook timeline is just a blur of re-posted anti-Trump articles, many pertaining to how homophobic he is. If I were American, I’d be fucking livid.

I’m going to start unfriending people soon.

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12 thoughts on “Facebook Politics

  1. I commited Facebook suicide in 2009, partly for this reason.

    Of course, the problem is with the lack of anyone having an argument with these people is that an informed alternative view really shakes them when they finally receive one.

    Last Christmas in London, I met a friend I’d not seen for years who I had heard had been rabidly anti-Brexit on Facebook.

    She started a conversation with something along the lines of “isn’t it terrible about Brexit?”.

    It was an awkward moment when I explained that I’d voted leave and it was due to none of the reasons she’d projected as being important to leave voters.

    As for politics on LinkedIn; instant disconnect.

  2. The risk point misses two key elements.

    1) terrorism is a deliberate attack, not misfortune or law of averages like slipping in the shower. Therefore it is a misleading comparison

    2) the key fact is that the frequency is increaseing. There are fewer incidents now than the height of the troubles but this fails to appreciate that we are at the beginning of a spike. This will continue to increase and the body count will rise. Comparing today with the past deliberately or ignorantly obscures the unique nature of both troubles terrorism and the current Islamist wave.

    I am very suspicious of the motives of the people who make such rubbish points.

  3. Years of arguing on USENET was more than enough training for yours truly.

    I make a point of not engaging and/or making any political position on Arsebook, making judicious use of the mute button to keep the wall free of uninformed bilious bollocks.
    That includes all of my direct family members.

    They have NFI of what real debate looks like. The moment I find myself enumerating the inevitable logical fallacies is when I hit un-follow.

  4. A close relative of mine the other day, talking about the Parson Green attempted atrocity, lamented that the ‘child’ who was taken in by foster parents was sadly on his own. She maintained that had he come over with his whole family (probably 38 of them to take the benefits) he would have integrated better and therefore never been any trouble.

    She also said that migrants in the back of lorries who jumped out in the rain in places like Derbyshire at night must be terrified of what they had come to. She resisted the argument that not coming to any part of the UK uninvited in the first place was the best idea.

    As for Parson Green other people I know said that the terrorists are actually very poor at what they do so we are safe and shouldn’t worry because all this failure will never amount to anything. I expect they thought that too in Nice, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, Manchester, Westminster bridge etc, once.

    I don’t do fecesbook anymore as I see no reason why Zuckercock should make money selling information about me, but I am still using Twatter while I can. I expect to be banned one day for saying something that offends the snowflakes and that will be the end of my interest there, but for now I can say that I don’t like the EU, islam, socialism, airhead celebs, communism, Hillary and on top of which — shock horror — I don’t believe in man-made climate change.

    In other words, the sooner a bastard like me is kicked off Twatter the better.

  5. I am wary of posting anything political on facebook because 1) I don’t want to appear like an opinionated bore and 2) because I don’t want to loose work in future because I’ve crossed some line on diversity or political correctness that offends against the constantly shifting (ratcheting?) political orthodoxy.

  6. I generally just scroll past the political crap (which is about 30%), pictures of peoples’ dinner is about 20% and the rest is wedding photos, pouting selfies and pictures of cats. If someone keeps on posting political crap then they disappear.

    I hardly even look at it these days, it is just so boring.

  7. I hardly even look at it these days, it is just so boring.

    This. I just never visit FB these days and am very close to just deleting my account. I think I’ll put some basic contact details up there and leave the account dormant.

  8. I am guilty of having posted numerous political rants and updates in the past, and when you’re writing them it’s hard to believe anyone could possibly disagree with what you’re saying. It’s only when you read daft things that other people have posted that you realise that you too might have come across as a complete wazzock.

  9. I too am a FB suicidee. That was a few year ago, and had as much to do with not wanting others seeing my robot dancing from a friend’s wedding, as anything else. I am working on becoming more like a ghost online. Probably too late as I’m sure I’ve said intemperate things online after ‘the man’ started collecting data. But better late than never.

    Unfortunately, many jobs, at least ‘cloud people jobs’ (if you visit Zman’s blog you’ll know what this means) depend on ‘interconnectedness’. You can’t really thrive without being part of it. I certainly suffer financially from not making more noise of myself and by not being a very good people person. Pretty depressing really what it says about our society.

  10. @morsjon – “Unfortunately, many jobs, at least ‘cloud people jobs’ depend on ‘interconnectedness”

    Its an interesting point, here we have the only real post war development, a great thing I might add that has also created a kind of modern day bondage. Yet we don’t really own this stuff, the data, the devices, the software, the clouds, we tend to get things on payment plans, get it on demand plus this stuff also fixes and updates itself as well. Property and the ownership of it has always had a close relationship with freedom, I am just not quite sure if we own our new found connectedness.

    PS Never had a FB account.

  11. I set up a FB account long ago, but never used it. I could tell that way lay madness. (So I comment on blogs instead…:-)

  12. morsjon – …not wanting others seeing my robot dancing from a friend’s wedding…

    You do realise someone you know has probably uploaded the video anyway, right? And tagged you in it, using your full name – even though you’re not on Facebook so the tagging won’t work – and captioned it something like “The old Somewheres University crew living it up!”

    And someone else probably talked about you in the comments:

    “Whatever happened to morsjon?”
    “Oh, I heard he’s living in Springfield now, working for the nuclear plant.”

    And then they discussed your deepest secrets in a private chat, as well as all those awful rumours they heard.

    In other words, you can’t escape no matter what you do. As long as there’s a critical mass of idiots filming every moment of their lives and putting the pictures on the internet, or even as long as we use computers for personal communication, we’re all on file in the Big Computer.

    This comment, for instance, is tied to my IP address, and linguistic fingerprinting can connect it to other comments I’ve made. Social media and internet banking accounts visited from the same address can tie my real name to those comments, and if I happen to have visited any, shall we say, “adult” websites, that can be connected as well.

    So everything needed to identify and humiliate me is already logged and detailed on some hard drive somewhere, just waiting in case it’s ever needed.

    Imagine the Stasi archives, but a thousand times more detailed, and considerably less secure: that’s the world we’ve created.

    And why? Mostly out of laziness. I mean, look at everything I just wrote and then consider that I still talk a lot of shit on Facebook. What an arsehole.

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