Political Climate in Our Nation and Social Media

It’s times like this that I think about my Dad.

He would always tell me, “Always be true to yourself and stick up for what you believe in.”

What happened in Arizona last week left alot of people thinking about the examples that have been set not only by politicians and political pundits, but also remarks about how we feel about things like this on Facebook, Twitter or Linked In.

I’d like to provide a part of President Obama’s speech:

…”And in Christina … in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic.

So deserving of our love.

And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better. To be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors and co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.”

More civil and honest public discourse is needed.

How can people forget the “You Lie!!” being shouted from the Senate halls, and the mid term election commercials that did nothing but provide alot of mud-slinging, name calling and opportunities for opponents to lay out dirty laundry? I was thankful after those elections were over because I learned nothing about any politicans platform, but learned alot about how they lie about their past records and income tax returns.

And, in the wake of this recent tragedy, I decided to post a political comment on Facebook. Now, normally, I try to steer away from these types of comments because I’ve seen what occurs on others’ walls. But, this particular incident struck a chord with me and with one particular politician in mind, I posted a comment that was not civil, as President Obama had referenced, and as a result there was misunderstanding to my comment and 20 posts ranging from responses of reason to completely off topic remarks which although may have struck a vague note of focused attention to the comment, was just really off the mark.

This taught me a lesson.

So, I’m going to share with you what my initial comment was, and what it should have been in order to provide a more civil and honest, public debate on my Facebook wall:

Initial Comment: “Although I do not blame Sarah Palin for what happened in AZ on Saturday, I DO blame Sarah Palin for the political climate she has generated from the “Don’t retreat, Reload!” slogans to crosshair targets on her Democratic target map on her website (Gabrielle Giffords was one of them targeted). She needs to SHUT HER YAPPER!!!!”

That doesn’t sound very civil, does it? I sound like I’m screaming from ten floors up outside a high rise building to people below on a bitter rant! LOL

After twenty comments from others’, my final post, and what should have been my first post was this: “Ok – this is my last post on this subject. My initial post was not meant to be political. I didn’t state Democrat or Republican in my post. But, I wanted to point out that there was one certain person (among many others, I’m sure), who has changed the political climate of our nation (i.e. Sarah Palin), and she needs to learn to tone it down a bit (ie. shut her yapper)…. From my point of view, this guy was hearing all the political crap out there from Sarah to Glenn to Rush to who knows whoever he was listening to.. So, again – this is MY WALL. If you don’t like my opinion: 1. I don’t care. 2. It’s a free world, speak your mind, but…3. Let’s not be rude about it. Good Night Everyone!

Now, if I had started my post with my last post, I probably would have had far less, rude and off topic remarks. This basically resulted in a few hours of my life I’ll never get back.

So, I’m listening to President Obama and toning down my political comments. This is what he means by providing a more civil and honest public discourse.

With that being said, I think there should be some guidelines or etiquette when it comes to posts of this nature. Coming from personal experience, here are some things to consider:

1. If you see a political post and respond with a rude remark, don’t expect the person who posted it to stand by and say nothing. First of all, try to be honest about your comments without being rude. You have to remember that this is their wall. They have the right to free speech just like you do. However, if comments to your post are angry or rude, you have alot of options to keep in mind:

a. You can tell this person you don’t appreciate the rude and angry remarks and won’t allow them on your wall. You have the right to delete the comment if you wish. 

b. You can tell them if they don’t like what you’ve posted, they can either hide your posts moving forward or “unfriend you.”  As my Dad said, “Always be true to yourself and stick up for what you believe in.” I can’t help if someone doesn’t like my opinions on things. That’s life – you can’t be friends with everyone!

There is nothing wrong with a good debate – I do it every day! But, if the debate resembles anything remotely akin to insults or condescension, it’s not worth your time. You can try to be civil, but if they aren’t, you have options above to cure the issue. Basically, you can’t tell someone to be intelligent, act mature, and try to be civil or have common sense. These attributes are earned.

You ask: But, what if they’re family? My answer would be. Why should that matter?Regardless of who it is, you have the right to defend your position….just do it with civility and honesty in mind.

2. Don’t do “The Double Standard”. If you publicly agree that not responding to political comments is the best thing to do, then hold true to that statement and don’t respond to them. This would also apply to any other person’s wall, and not just your own. I’ve seen people agree on their own wall that it’s best to keep these types of comments to themselves, and yet they have a double standard “itch”, requiring them to respond to political comments on others’ walls. So, in other words, “Do what you say and not what you mean.”

One last parting comment about Sarah Palin. After her videotaped statement from her website was aired, Chuck Todd, who is the White House Chief Correspondent for MSNBC had posted a comment which put Sarah’s video response nicely into perspective:

“The president’s speech made Palin’s response look very small by comparison. While Obama tried to uplift, Palin tried to settle scores. While the president called for more civility, the former Alaska governor talked about duels and “blood libel.” And while Obama’s message was, well, presidential, Palin’s was not. We’ll say this: If Palin has ambitions for the White House — and we’re still not sure she does — then her tone, message, and timing from her eight-minute video was a serious miscalculation. Is this what happens when you live in a bubble? Is this what happens when you don’t have advisers you trust that live outside her bubble? Palin’s speech struck as a natural response only if she spent the last three days reading every nasty email and Tweet she received, and didn’t extract herself from the story.”

Out of 375,000 people who voted on whether her response was appropriate, almost 60% did not agree with Sarah Palin’s response.

So, moving forward I’d like to hope that politicans and the pundits out there take a “time out” and really think about what they say BEFORE they say it.  As for all you social media people out there, if you’ve ever run into what I’ve described above, exercising a more subtle approach to your position, as I have learned, will probably get your point across without offending anyone…..well almost anyone.

Be true to yourself and stick up for what you believe in….just be civil and honest about it.

I learned my lesson and hopefully you will too! Please pass this onto any of your Facebook friends who can use this advice. I’m sure you know a few!!!

God bless the families in Arizona who have to pick up the pieces and recover from this terrible tragedy.


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