I love facebook. As an NYU alum, I got involved in facebook relatively early. (NYU is, afterall, "almost" ivy league...) And now nearly everyone I know is on it, and I'm glad. I chat every day with my sister for free, I'm able to connect to people from high school and college, I have a place to post pictures of my daughter for my family to see, and I'm able to market theatre events to hundreds of people quite easily.
But there's one aspect of facebook that I find hurtful, both as a person and as a citizen, and that is the way we use it to promote politics. Don't get me wrong- political debate is important and part of our country's foundation. But are we debating? Or are we treating politics like a sporting event with winners and losers, us and them.
Last night our House voted in favor of health care reform. If you are a regular reader, I'm sure you can guess that I believe this reform is for the best. I admit that there are things concerning this bill I don't understand, and I'm guessing that if people are really honest, they would admit that they don't entirely understand it either. I wonder, for example, if people can answer- with certainty- any of these questions:
1- How much will this bill cost you personally?
2- If you already have health care, what changes will this bring to your family?
3- In what way-philosophically- does providing health care differ from providing education? (or roads, or security...)
I am someone who will likely benefit from this bill. And so when I read things about "those people" written on the walls of facebook "friends," I can't help but take it personally. (for example, I wouldn't describe myself as "entitled," and I'm pretty sure I did not just single-handedly kill freedom.) And when I read accusations of bribes and threats, I can't help but feel defensive on our President's behalf. (Although if there is evidence to this, please let me know, as something should be done. You might want to also check out the actions of lobbyists for the insurance companies while you're researching, though.)
Freedom of speech is important. Facebook is an unbelievable networking tool. But what happened to manners? And kindness? And sensitivity? Not only is this mud-slinging highly ineffective, it's rude.
So here's the deal. Let's keep political debate alive. But let's use facebook for the educational tool it could be. Give me facts. Give me something to think about. But when you're talking about us bleeding hearts, consider using kinder words. We are, by nature, sensitive people. ;)
Our country is in crisis, people. This is something on which we can all agree. Let's be kind to each other, shall we?