Why I talk about politics on Facebook

I love Facebook. Probably for many of the same reasons you do — who doesn’t love humbly overtly bragging about your awesome life, creepin’ on your ex or that new girl at the gym, cute photos of babies and dogs and all the Buzfeed shares?

I love it for all of those things, but I also love Facebook because it’s a place to learn. Yup. At least it is to me.

There are times when it doesn’t go well, but I truly believe Facebook is a great forum for discussion. I get most of my news from social media, and I enjoy engaging in discussions and learning from all of my Facebook friends.

Apparently, however, posting about politics on Facebook is a sure way to get unfriended and an even surer (lol) way to be labeled “one of those insufferable people.”

Well y’all, I’m not about to stop. And here are four reasons why.

1) News

As previously mentioned, I actually get most of my news from Facebook and Twitter. I follow many organizations and publications that push out content I find interesting and you know, important. I know I’m not alone, in fact 68% of Millennials get their news from social media. Some people think Facebook should primarily be used to post photos of their cats (which is totally cool with me too). But others think Facebook is a source of news and a place for discussion. Considering it’s where I, and most of my peers, get the news, I would argue it is also a place to talk about the news.

2) To inform and to educate

Facebook serves many purposes. For me, I find it to be not only a social tool, but a place to learn and a place to teach. One of my Facebook friends whom I went to high school with is getting his Ph.D in evolutionary biology and has been providing a series of posts in which he breaks down the theory of evolution. That is something he is passionate about and knows something (or a lot of things) about, and is sharing that knowledge with those he is connected with. (Plus, it’s freaking fascinating). Some people share content about music, travel or their kids. Things they are passionate and know about, and want to share in human connection. I too, have hobbies, passions and interests. Most of these encompass politics in some way. Oh and also, it isn’t just a hobby, but is kind of my life. My career. If you don’t want to know about my life, which includes my career, maybe we shouldn’t be Facebook friends. Or friends at all. Just sayin’.

Furthermore, the shit I post affects you and me, and in a democracy where you have a voice and a role in choosing how society functions, you owe it to yourself and to everyone around you to be informed.

3) To build community

I get (sort of) why some people stray away from politics entirely, and I understand why some people who might be politically active, choose to not engage in political discussions on social media. I know that for many people, when they think about politics, they think about people yelling at each other. (And turn on any cable news provider, and you’ll see why). Political conversations can and often do get heated. It gets uncomfortable. Can’t we all just keep to ourselves, agree to disagree, and avoid awkward conversations?

I get it, and I’ve been there. I think there are many reasons why political discourse has become so vitriolic and unproductive (maybe a post for another day), but keeping to ourselves, especially when we’re faced with a choice about whether or not to bring attention to a vital public issue, does nothing to advance our current condition or society as a whole. I don’t know about you, but I’m interested in living the best life I can, and in order to do so that means I need to give a shit about my community, and speak up when faced with injustice. I find that to be more important than avoiding an awkward conversation.

The thing is, although I’m sure I’ve lost a friend or two, or three, I’ve also learned about allies I didn’t know existed. People have “liked” and commented on things I have posted, and I would have never known that we were like-minded otherwise. Or maybe I even helped inform some of these people who appreciated my post. (One can hope, right?) This is building community – finding common ground on important issues, and it is crucial if we are to bring about positive change.

4) To effect change

Ok, so this really actually goes with #1 and #2. Posting on Facebook alone will not bring about change. But sharing information about an issue and how to take action (i.e. contact your legislator, attend a rally, etc.) can start to bring about change. Remember HB 2453? (Several months ago from legislative session…) The Kansas House bill that would have legalized discrimination against the LGBT community? Yeah, that thing spread like wildfire on social media. For some, posting about it and maybe commenting were the extent of any action, but others sent e-mails and made phone calls — political actions they likely would not have taken if not urged to do so by their Facebook friends (and maybe real friends too). And guess what? That bill was stalled in the KS Senate, in part because the business community also came out in opposition, but also in larger part to the absolute ruckus Kansans raised about it. And our legislators heard us. (And it’s an election year, so ya know.)

Post on, friends. All your cat photos and your politics.

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