Politics on Facebook

There were two topics my Dad always refused to discuss at the dinner table: religion and politics, a rule instigated to safeguard against arguments. Of course it wasn’t a perfect solution, arguments were still had but at least some were avoided or mitigated by his policy.

I’m starting to wish a similar mantra existed on Facebook. In the past two days I have been tagged in a video post about negative gearing, encouraged to sign some sort of anti Liberal Party petition via private message (I didn’t read the whole thing) and been served up several articles in my news feed offering various opinions on the major parties.

What if I like the idea of a Medicare co payment or find Tony Abbott’s St Patrick’s Day video amusing? Would my petition signing, anti Liberal friend understand? Or would I be like that colleague at work who one day says something racist and nobody ever wants anything to do with them again?

Luckily for my left wing friend, I’m not going to put her in that situation because a) I’m not racist and b) I’ve got better things to do than spend my day discussing something I know relatively little about. Just like Dad, I’m going to keep my opinion to myself and enjoy Mum’s baked chops and over cooked veggies in silence. If she wants to talk about the Richmond football club or who makes the best hamburger in Melbourne, she knows where to find me.

It takes restraint. I read tirade after tirade on Facebook from people with varying political credentials. You try to avoid them but sometimes walking into a political debate is unavoidable. I commented on a friend’s post last week regarding East- West link. He said he wished it was still going to be built because he was sick of being stuck in traffic. A heated political debate erupted and I was caught in the middle. ‘What about public transport?’ ‘Why did Napthine sign the contract in the first place?’… It was my Dad’s worst nightmare.

I understand that feeling of helplessness when you sense a political injustice is being done but isn’t Facebook the most useless forum to try and engage with it? I mean, it makes you feel a bit better because at least you’ve taken some action but most of your friends probably already agree with you and those who don’t you’ve just alienated.

The old saying goes that ‘the only way to really get involved with policy making is to join a political party’… but I like a game of golf on the weekend and I’m going to London in June for 3 weeks. If you’re like me you probably just don’t have time to be a policy maker at the moment.

To be clear, I am not agitating against the ridicule of Politicians in general. That picture last week of the primary school kid face down on the table while Tony Abbott was addressing his classroom was was something we could all enjoy regardless of our political leanings. Even my Dad would support this kind of public bi partisanship.

What do you think? Is Facebook a legimate place to engage in political discussion or should we stick to videos of a guy getting a champagne cork shot up his keister? Leave a comment below…

Discussion

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