Imagine Facebook is a giant room and we’re all in it together. It’s a reflective room, so the louder you speak, the more people you’ll reach. When you update your status, you effectively go around the room and tell each person.
“Man, I hate leg day.” Taps someone on the shoulder, “I hate leg day.” Moving around the room, “I hate leg day. Excuse me. I hate leg day. You know what Greg, I hate leg day. Pssst, I’m at the gym and I hate leg day.”
Not everyone acknowledges you. Some might give you a quick pat on the back (a like). Others might even respond and you’ll have a short conversation, “Can’t skip leg day, bro!”
That’s how this room works. In order for people to see or hear your status, you need to approach them. The typical, mundane updates won’t get much attention. You get a few likes, a few comments and the update disappears from everyone’s memory. Pictures of your cats and babies and brunch cocktails and thoughts on the latest Marvel movie all fade away quickly, some drawing more attention and chatter than others.
But controversial status updates gain more attention. Instead of going around the room and telling each person, you effectively yell out into the room as loud as you can making the update difficult to ignore:
“YOU KNOW WHAT, TACOS ARE RIDICULOUSLY OVERRATED!”
This statement turns a lot of heads, and lots of people come running up to you, forming a small group of taco aficionados in the room.
“Now wait a damn minute, Karen. Have you ever had a good taco??”
“LOL. And I thought we were friends.”
“Dude. There’s a taco place right down the street called CONFIRMATION BIAS. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, I’m taking you there and CHANGING YOUR OPINION!”
Of course, the Taco Denier’s opinion is just that, an opinion and her status update, right or wrong, serves to only playfully rile up people. It’s humorously controversial and it’s so inconsequential that it’s easy to ignore and doesn’t disrupt other people in the room, even if she keeps yelling about it.
Now let’s see how this works with hot political posts:
Pulls out pedestal and megaphone, “IF YOU PEOPLE WOULD GET PAST THE FIRST PAGE OF GOOGLE YOU’D KNOW THAT HITLER, DESPITE WHAT THE #FAKENEWS REPORTED, DIDN’T COMMIT SUICIDE AND ACTUALLY LIVED OUT HIS DAYS IN A SECRET NAZI MILITARY BASE UNDERNEATH ANTARCTICA!!!!”
Suddenly, you’ve got the entire room’s attention. And instead of playfully discussing the topic at hand, we’re all yelling at each other and throwing around links to various articles. For the next 8 to 12 hours, every Facebook notification you get is another opinion, or another article, or another “gotcha!” comment, or a snarky GIF, or another “did you even read the article?” This continues until you finally mute the conversation or, even worse, get aggravated inspired enough to create your own similar status update:
“EXCUSE ME EVERYONE. THERE SEEMS TO BE SOME MISINFORMATION OUT THERE ABOUT NAZIS LIVING UNDERNEATH ANTARCTICA. LET ME EDUCATE YOU WITH A FEW LINKS TO SOME WEBSITES…”
Obviously, the Antarctica example is extreme, even though some people believe it, but you can sub in any politically hot topic and achieve the same results. It’s not a terrible thing to discuss these topics in a public forum. But you are yelling them into a room where everyone else is sharing pictures of family or making mundane observations of life, which was the original reason the majority of us entered the room in the first place. We didn’t join to be educated or lectured by someone based on their opinion, right or wrong, of hot topics. So, when you YELL THAT OPINION INTO THE ROOM, the room becomes extremely noisy and less enjoyable for everyone.
Instead, debaters could set up or join Facebook groups that were created specifically for political discourse. After all, it’s important to have those conversations, especially when they include people who don’t hold our same views. That’s how we keep open minds. But, the next time you’re in a crowded room such as an airport lounge, ask the person next to you if they want your opinion on immigration reform. Chances are, it’ll be a hard no.
Indeed. Even writing and posting about this is contradictory. Obviously, if you feel strongly about a topic and you want to know how your friends and family feel about that same topic, you should speak up. Such is your right. Just keep in mind that we all have to share this room, and like most rooms, it’s a lot more enjoyable when no one is yelling.