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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Facebook's out, at least for now. I'm done messing with it for a while, and I'm going back to my first love, blogging. If you're seeing this on Facebook, that's simply because I have an automagic feed set up from years ago to publish my blog posts as notes on Mr. Zuckerberg's Wondrous Money-Maker. If you'd like to see the original blog posts with photos and everything, just go to www.radloffs.net and click on "Blog."

There are myriad reasons why I'm going to go back to blogging in lieu of Facebooking, but the main reason is that I'm simply fed up with arguing with people who are strong on opinions but weak on facts and logic. I hate to say it, but I'm feeling kinda, well, bullied into silence. Whenever I'd say anything remotely political on my wall I'd get hammered - often with arguments no more sophisticated than a regurgitation of yesterday's FOX opinions*. I'm not sure whatever happened to "free speech" in America, but it seems I'm having problems with it...

Don't get me wrong - everyone is entitled to an opinion. The problem is that I find myself wondering if everyone SHOULD be entitled to an opinion. To use an extreme example, when a professor studies politics and history, he reads books, studies philosophy, dig into the backgrounds of political thoughts and movements, has a grasp of political trends and shifts throughout history and what the consequences of those trends have been. I'd be more apt to listen to his opinion than that of someone who no education, no background in history, who gets his ideas from the talking heads on television rather than from his own study, whose political views are more a reflection of their personal insecurities than of a broad worldview... Yet on Facebook both are given equal time.

I'm tired of everything being an argument. I'm tired of having people think their opinion is fact. I'm tired of people believing their opinions mean more than facts. Especially when I take the time to look up the facts and be sure of them before opening my mouth. Most of the time.

Not too long ago I posted a plea for compromise on Facebook, a call for Democrats and Republicans to work together for the betterment of the United States. Oddly enough, people argued with me. There's a knee-jerk reaction to fight violently for "your side," be it progressive or conservative. People forget that "your side" and "my side" are one and the same - America. The divisiveness is instinctive, and increasingly worrisome.

An example: my wife and I were talking to an eleven-year-old boy the other day about professional football. He liked the Vikings, thought Green Bay was okay, but when my wife mentioned she used to watch the Washington Redskins when she lived in D.C., the boy jumped to his feet angrily. "I would never want to live in Washington," he said. "That's too close to that Barack Obama." Hatred flashed in his eyes. Hatred from... what? Where does an 11-year-old learn to hate a politician? It would be a rare 11-year-old to hold a truly informed opinion about such matters. I'm glad the boy is aware enough of his country to know who the President is and seems to be interested, but I'm sad that those who are teaching him seem to be teaching him instinctive party division rather than independent, critical thought.**

As much as the political divisiveness and partisan bickering bothers me, I'm just as bothered by my perceived notion of how Facebook etiquette should be handled. Personally, I split my postings between personal and political. When I posted political gunk, most of the time I simply posted a link to some tidbit of information or opinion I thought interesting. Once in a while I'd post an original thought, but those have been increasingly rare as I have little stomach for argument these days. It seems that people have no problem hijacking a thread on my wall - posting argument after argument, comment after comment. Personally, I dislike that. When I see someone else writing or linking to a political thought, I may comment once - rarely twice. I try very hard to be concise, state my position, and be done. I respect that the other person may not have my ideals, and aspire to not argue. In a way I feel it's akin to being invited to someone's home - if my host states an opinion, I'll politely respond with my opinion. Once. Unless invited, I don't pursue an argument in someone else's house. When I'm in my own home, I feel quite free to air my opinion - until I get the feeling that my guest doesn't share my opinion, at which point I generally restate my position quickly and change the subject. (There are, of course, exceptions - I feel free to argue politics politely with some friends, but most of the time I really try to be sensitive to "enough is enough.")

So, for the time being, I'm done with Facebook - for the most part. I'll keep up my business' page, and I'm sure I'll comment occasionally via my phone. But I'm not gonna lurk. I'm not gonna argue. Enough is enough. Feel free to comment on this note in Facebook, but please don't expect me to respond. If you'd like to comment on my blog, again, just go to www.radloffs.net and click on "Blog."


*Did you know that FOX News is banned in Canada? They have laws against people lying on TV. It came up for a vote not too long ago, and the people of Canada overwhelmingly opted to keep the law as it is rather than let a FOX-style news show go on the air.

**Would I have been equally upset had he jumped up and said, "I'd love to live in Washington - I might be able to meet President Obama"? No, probably not. While no President is deserving of blind devotion, all Presidents are worthy of our respect. Except maybe... Well, no, even Taft.

2 Comments:

Blogger A said...

If I have done anything to promote division in any comments you have made, I apologize.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Allen - you're fine! You've been unfailingly, constantly open-minded, polite, and thoughtful in everything you do on your blog and on Facebook.

4:31 PM  

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