Recently I have noticed a couple of different posts on Facebook related to “What should we talk about on Facebook”. I started thinking about these posts and mulling over the question myself. Are there certain things we should or shouldn’t discuss when posting on Facebook? I have always told my professional clients that it is a good idea to stay away from politics and religion when posting on their Facebook business pages. I’ve also encouraged them to try and avoid these topics when posting on their Facebook personal profiles. No matter how you look at it, those topics can engender negative feelings in people. While you may get kudos from those people that look at life the same way you do in regard to those topics, you will undoubtedly alienate those that do not share your point of view. Even family members can “get into it” over Facebook posts that are dealing with these very sensitive and personal topics.
I have always attempted to “practice what I preach” on Facebook and stay away from religion, politics and sensitive social issues except in rare cases where some issue is very important to me and I just have to say something. I try not to politicize it though. It’s hard sometimes, I know that. We want to express our views and get on our soapbox. After all, Facebook is a personal soapbox platform for all of us.
Recently, I noticed that a prominent individual who I thoroughly admire disagreed with my view on posting about politics and suggested that Facebook was the place to have such discussions about what is going on and how we can make positive change in America. They expressed the view that finding out what and where people are eating is not nearly as important as discussing those issues that can help bring about political change. I thought about this after I commented back that people do not discuss politics. They rant, rave, spew negativity and basically bad mouth whatever it is they disagree with. No positive energy going on there. Based on what I usually see related to politics, I truly would rather know about your dinner.
It stands to reason that Facebook could be a place to have meaningful discussions about politics and social issues (as many Rotarians do regarding projects, End Polio Now, etc.) that would help bring about positive energy, influence and change. However, it doesn’t seem to work out that way.
It seems that when it comes to spewing negativity, insulting others and using Facebook as a platform to express hatred, people find that behind the wall of social media it’s okay. It’s not okay and it’s something that is getting out of hand, especially when people are being victimized.
What do you think? Is there a hope for meaningful discussion on sensitive topics or is the impetus to trash an ideal so much stronger than the desire to support what we stand for on Facebook?