I have been guilty of this:
“I don’t want to get too political on Facebook or Twitter, lest I offend friends and family who see things differently.”
Okay, I never actually use the word “lest” other than in writing, but you get the idea.
This “ruffle no feathers” mentality is typical of someone who cares very much about what others think of them, is sometimes accidentally outspoken (whose mouth has played host to their own foot a time or two) but who never intentionally aims to offend; who actually perseverates on the embarrassment when they do disgruntle; one who truly wants everyone to like them. This is typical of the type of person whose political views stem from a place of compassion and concern for their neighbors, and not just their own family or their own self. Silence becomes synonymous with not rocking the boat so that one feels they’ve done their part in trying to keep the social waters smooth; playing “nice” with others.
However, I find myself in this sudden place of empowerment and clarity where I’m tired of saying to myself, “No, Jen! Don’t post that. You might make someone mad.” Here so many of us are saying, “Oh, darn you addictive social media! You’ve turned our world negative!” but thereby unintentionally refusing to play a part in anything that can potentially turn things around to a more contented place.
There’s valor in avoiding conflict by minding your political p’s and q’s. But recently, it hit me: We have the gift of this forum to paint the picture we want to share with others. You may think my painting sucks and doesn’t belong in a museum, but that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with me sharing the things that I feel are important for people to see and think about.
If we went to a museum together, we’d be allowed to disagree about the art we saw and still be friends, provided there was enough other things in common, right? And darn it, shouldn’t we discuss it? Isn’t that some of what living is all about – sharing and learning about each other, agreeing, disagreeing, getting to know other perspectives, formulating our own mindset through the process of conversation? Everyone says don’t talk about politics because it can ruin friendships, and I see that in the way so many are tip-toeing around during this election. I tip-toed for a while. But if someone is such a fair weather friend to you, are they a friend at all? If we can’t agree to disagree, what’s at the core of our connection anyway?
The brave ones out there who haven’t been scared of posting what resonates with them politically have allowed others of us to digest and grow from the nourishment they have offered. Or else to elicit in us that we don’t agree with that particular source or train of thought, and then we can choose to either engage in a courteous debate or move along quietly, or even, yes, weed the friend garden and say, “I’m not sure I care to stay in contact with that particular acquaintance. I think we might have too many core value differences.”
But I just want to share this fearlessness other social media pioneers have inspired in me, and encourage you to consider it. There’s value in what you believe. There’s value in what I believe. Let’s share it! We don’t have to stay in the political closet out of fear that we will offend. There’s value in you citing sources for why you feel the way you do; passing on articles, video clips, other people’s thoughts that you could have practically written yourself, they speak so much to your heart and soul. This is the time to take the reins and use any forums you want to express what you want, passionately.
People of my generation may have never thought we’d live through a time when we could be revolutionary, but the time is here. Let’s be activists for what we know is right!
And those who find that mine is a tiresome position, by all means ignore me, block me from your feed, even unfriend me if you must. If our friendship was that faulty, well, maybe we shouldn’t pretend to care about one another’s vacation pictures anyway. But I encourage each of us to use the gift we have of social media forums to share our own political breaking news as we see fit and not be embarrassed or worried that we will ostracize with our thoughtfully arrived upon assessments on our country’s upcoming very important election.
Just consider sharing your convictions proudly my Facebook brothers and sisters!!! It’s your chance to “be the change” and other such uniquely American cliches which were arrived upon because of very moments like right now!
Every vote does, indeed, count! There are many out there still undecided. Your circumspect posts might help someone move past that nagging feeling of “what’s the point??” and arrive at a decision that they can feel good about. Your insight could very well shine a light on just what someone else is searching for.