Negotiating a peaceful journey through the online morass of social network politics is never an easy feat. No solutions readily present themselves. One person or another, and usually both, is always going to disagree with you. Even a non-participation policy will only get one so far as articles, memes, videos and everything else that can be used to push an agenda show up on a Facebook news feed, or Twitter feed, or Pinterest board, or Reddit, or email service homepage. Simply put, it is impossible to be on the internet and not be awash in political propaganda of one kind or another. Unfortunately, politics is one of those subjects where no matter what your opinion on the matter, someone close to you always thinks you’re an idiot for thinking that way.
I had an eye opening experience the other day. I posted this video on my wife’s Facebook wall:
When I watch this video, I see a triumph of feminist ideals. I see a plea for gender equality and a structure for a better society. These are views which most people I know would describe as “liberal”. However, the very first person to comment on this video was my staunchly conservative father who said, “This is excellent.”
“Wow. Cool story Hansel,” as my friend Lauren would say in her totally underwhelmed, yet sincere manner. You may have just been wowed by that video, but I don’t expect anybody to be wowed by the story of a conservative relation liking the same thing I do. Here’s the point though: That is a HUGE deal! Not that my father and I like the same thing. We like lots of the same things. But think about this for a moment. I posted something I thought could be held up as a bastion of liberal values (the good ones, like equality and democracy; not the crazy ones like homeopathics, and anti-consumerism). Then, it gets lauded by a very conservative man as “excellent.” I can only speculate why my father liked it so much—I assume it mainly has to do with the message against the sexualization of women, with which I wholeheartedly agree—but the point is we both liked it and thought it a valuable message. How many times a year do you think the Republican and Democrat congressmen and women sit down and say to each other, ‘Isn’t it cool how we all think this one message is completely politically accurate?’ I imagine that number would be somewhere around the zero range, possibly even in the negative.
These issues exist though! There are messages out there about which the majority of people can agree! Facebook doesn’t have to deteriorate into a storm of political sludge thrown about by people who love and care about each other! This is monumental, and if you don’t agree then Forget You!
What do you guys think? Are there other issues we can come together on across political lines? Have you had similar experiences? How can we all have these experiences more often?