The political season on Facebook makes me feel like a 10 penny nail trying to avoid a framing hammer. Some of my friends lean very far to the Right and some very far to the Left where I tend to hang out somewhere in the middle as an Independent, a Centrist, a Middle American simply trying to make sense of the theater that is politics. This go ‘round, I am looking at the menu and nothing stands out to me as sounding particularly good for dinner, and this is, unfortunately, the only place open. May be I go to bed hungry this cycle. My state is always the same color on the political pundit’s huge wall map, so I expect no one is likely to notice or care if I remain in bed and pull the covers over my head.
People believe what they believe and politics, not unlike religion and football, are more about emotion and less about reason, argument, facts. Very few people believe in total what another person believes, and there is nothing wrong about that. My ideal breakfast is grits, eggs, sausage, and hot cathead biscuits where my wife prefers yogurt with granola and coffee strong enough to clean brake parts. Somehow, we make this marriage work even if she is wrong about morning fare.
Bless her heart.
Some of my friends started posting they had hidden or defriended people that kept posting contrary views. For me, that is a little extreme and even narrow-minded given they were your friends at some point and friends are likely to have different views – and that is not even a bad thing. FB is a public forum and people “public” even when you would prefer they did not, a few exceeding dramatically their “public” allotment. I do not feel the need to drop friends I do not agree with as I would have very few in the end. Much like the boycotting of businesses I do not agree with, if I boycotted every business that did not hold the same views and values that I do, I would be sitting on a pile of dollars in an empty house.
The wife is not having that.
We watch the news and read the local paper often, so we are not uninformed or unopinioned. We discuss issues with our family and select friends and shake our collective heads over how this is all going. I simply do not want the constant onslaught of opinion and persuasion and outright propaganda on every screen I frequent. I want to go to FB to drop in on friends, post pictures of our adorable Boston Terriers, and post things to make our lives appear much more interesting than they actually are. Like everyone else.
A few weeks ago, I began using FB’s Hide Post feature and started hiding every political post, share, or comment as I came to it in my news feed. If I see a picture of a candidate or something that looks political – Hide Post. Names scroll up – Hide Post. Graphics that depict data in one party’s favor, real or made up – Hide Post. Shares from a political group – Hide All from x.
This was a constant exercise the first week or so first thing in the morning as I visited FB, but after about two weeks, the steady flow of posts that did not interest me began to dry up and I realized I was getting more non-SPAM in my news feed and more of the things that do interest me. Posts from groups I belong to that had been crowded out by the political noise began showing up in my feed. Friends I had not seen much of began frequenting my feed. FB became a much friendlier, entertaining, and interesting place to visit. While I have about as much understanding of how FB algorithms work as the rest of the users, I see something positive happening as I hide posts and see less of the clutter and noise.