Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Politcs and facebook

A reader writes:

"What are your thoughts are on politics and Facebook? The health-care political debate has people talking politics now more than ever ...Recently one friend noted 'X doesn't log into Facebook to read political rants.' Now, same person also has shared the size and scope of his daily constitutional before (a topic about which I never log in to read), but it did bring up a question for me. Is it cool to write about political topics on Facebook?

For me, so long as it's civil, politics are certainly something one can discuss amongst friends and given the technological capability to ignore updates from people in FB, I don't see the harm. Am I off-base here?"

Just so I'm clear, your friend talks about the size and scope of his daily walks? Or were you euphemizing something else?

You bring up an excellent question. What does etiquette have to do with facebook? Well, everything. And those who post online (anywhere) need to be mindful of a) the message they are posting, b) who might see it, and, c) how it might be perceived -- or how it might affect the poster.

Certainly, everyone's entitled to his or her opinion. But there's a difference between, "Go Candidate Q!" (showing support) and, "[Name of political 'party' throwers] can suck it!" (insulting).

You are correct, that given the features of facebook, we can just click "ignore" on anyone's feeds, so if your friend X doesn't want to read political rants, s/he can use that feature.

But, but, but...there's that whole perception problem. What if you just want to express a civil thought about your preferred candidate/piece of legislation/health care reform? Go ahead, but know that it might be seen by others who hold sway over you...and who might be offended, innocent as your post is.

No, you're not off-base, but I can't help but wonder if political discussions aren't best held in person, over a bottle of Pinot with a plate of cheese and fruit. Or, hell, over beer and pizza.

So here's my bottom line on politics and facebook: tread lightly. When in doubt, don't.