Electing to be Anti-Social


By Samuel Greengard

I'm not sure Facebook was ever the idyllic daisy-scented wonderland some people believe. Somewhere in the middle of a seemingly endless stream of daily affirmations and narcissistic ramblings, there have always been opinionated and politically slanted barbs. I'll admit that I've been guilty of flinging a few of them.

But never in the relatively brief and sometimes glorious history of social media have things turned so ugly so fast. Recently, Facebook has been transformed into a steaming cauldron of political rants and diatribes. Amid all of this, and quite understandably, friends are beginning to hate friends—and to unfriend their friends—over Facebook comments and opinions.

I don't think this is exactly what Mark Zuckerberg had in mind when he helped create Facebook.

I'm not advocating a kumbaya cluster, but there is a takeaway that seems to be escaping a lot of otherwise smart people: Posting overtly political comments on Facebook isn't a good idea. Let's face it, you're not going to change anyone's opinion about a candidate or issue—any more than a bumper sticker or a sign on your lawn will convince someone to vote for your man or woman.

Here's the reality: While your posts will almost certainly not alter anyone's views about a candidate, they will most likely change the way they think about you … and definitely not for the better. I've gotten so fed up with reading rants and vitriolic posts from people who share the same ideology and will vote for the same presidential candidate. In a couple of cases, I've instructed Facebook to minimize their posts or purge the person from my newsfeed.

Unfortunately, this is like using your finger to try to stop ants from streaming out of an ant hole. The fusillade of posts continues unabated because other people simply fill the newsfeed gap.

However, leave it to technology to solve a technology related problem. I recently turned to a browser extension called Facebook Purity to censor offensive topics. In my case, the blocked words are: Obama, Romney, Biden, Ryan, Democrat, Republican and Election.

Daily affirmations and narcissistic ramblings have never been so welcome.