Stop Right There: Keeping Political Arguments off Facebook

We’re on the countdown to the 2016 presidential election, and so far, I’ve pretty much managed to keep myself out of the online political debates.

It’s not that I don’t find it important or interesting – on the contrary, I know exactly how important it is and I find it all very stimulating. I just 100%-absolutely-no-question-about-it refuse to engage in any type of online political debate with anyone.

I’ve studied the candidates from the beginning. I’ve considered the issues at hand, as well as the state of our economy past and present. I’ve come to my own educated opinion on the matter, and I know who I’m going to vote for. I’m confident in my decision and that is all that matters. No amount of Facebook arguing is going to change my mind.

I have to admit – this goes against all that I am as a person. I’m a touch dramatic. I love a good argument. I’m high energy, and I love to engage with people. But, especially in the last year, I’ve seen some pretty ugly word fights go down on social media between people who are normally close.

Recently, I shared the Humans of New York Hilary Clinton post. If you’re on Facebook, you know the one I’m talking about – the one in which she speaks of how she had to learn to control her emotions early on in her career in a male-dominated arena. I originally saw it via a friend – an intelligent and educated woman with whom I share a lot in common. Her commentary regarding the post rang true with me. So, I shared the post on my own page with the preface of, “This isn’t meant to be a political post despite her spotlight right now. As [my friend] said, ‘Like her not, this speaks to the experience of women in the workplace.’” 

I shared the post because I knew exactly what Ms. Clinton was talking about. Spending my entire career in male-dominated fields has made me acutely aware of how differently women in the workplace are treated. Painfully aware of the steeper hill we must climb to be considered even just equal to our male counterparts, let alone better in our fields.

Most of the comments on my post were from other women voicing similar experiences. Not one of these women – with political affiliations and views across the board – turned the post into a presidential election argument. But, much to my dismay, two men (one a dear family member and another a longtime family friend) piled on with the election bullcrap.

I know, I know. I should have been prepared. And I was. I was ready on the trigger button to delete the comments as soon as they hit my post. And I did delete them. I absolutely wasn’t going to put up with any of the misogyny that they were spewing. What I wasn’t prepared for was waking up to private, harassing messages questioning my intelligence from someone who supposedly cared about me. I wasn’t prepared to have to block a family member from seeing any of my Facebook.

I don’t think debating our current political atmosphere is a bad thing. But debating it on social media – a platform that doesn’t allow you to see facial expressions, read body language, or hear vocal nuances – has proven time after time to be an idea capable of ruining the best of relationships.

I’ve yet to hear of a case in which someone’s political views were changed via a political argument on Facebook. So please, just keep me out of it.

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