From binders to Big Bird, presidential politics have taken center stage in workplaces and living rooms, around dining room tables, and all across social media platforms.
Friendships are threatened and family gatherings become contentious as everybody seems to want their opinion not only to be factual, but to be the opinion of everybody else.
Even innocent bystanders are hit in the crossfire — bombarded with posts on Facebook and Twitter and discussions they’d rather not be in.
People are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.
Sadly, most folks who are so energized on Facebook, Twitter and in social settings are the ones who seem to have the least amount of meat to back up their beliefs.
Last week, a friend sent me a text saying a relative instigated a political battle over brunch. The feud ignited almost everybody at the table. Variety of misinformation was spewed from the mouth of one participant — the instigator — which continued on as others fired back, my friend said.
Days later, my friend said the feud continued to keep the two sides from speaking with one another.
Family members. Not speaking because of a political opinion disagreement.
I’m at a point now on Facebook where I mostly see brand pages in my timeline. I’ve hidden so many folks because of political rants in the last few weeks.
I refuse to un-friend someone because of their beliefs, and I do believe everybody has a voice, no matter your opinion. What jars me most is when fiction becomes their fact.
And so much fiction can spread thanks to Twitter and Facebook. I have tried commenting to alert folks that, while they can have an opinion, their “facts” are incorrect. Of course, I get slammed in return for sharing what they feel is my opinion.
Through this process, though, the media still gets blamed — wrongfully being associated with one political belief or another.
Thanks to social media and the Internet, anybody can more easily share their opinions. Again, I support everybody’s right to have an opinion. That isn’t the issue.
But I don’t support wrong information being spread by folks with a few clicks of a button.
In April, Chicago Tribune reporter Rex W. Huppke wrote an excellent piece offering an obituary to Facts.
“To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet,” Huppke wrote. “Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives are communists.
“Facts held on for several days after that assault — brought on without a scrap of evidence or reason — before expiring peacefully at its home in a high school physics book. Facts was 2,372.”
We’ve replaced the word “opinion” with “fact.” Because we believe it, it must be true. Right?
That belief, coupled with copious amounts of mudslinging from political steam engines who want you to believe the presidential election actually means something to you — the tiny, itty, bitty little person who is trying to make something from nothing — has forced us to fight with loved ones who have differing views.
It’s great to be engaged and to be part of the election process, but part of that process includes being correctly informed of facts and to recognize that — in the grand scheme — government likely isn’t going to change drastically. So ask yourself — is it worth getting into heated debates and posting useless items on your Facebook page?
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