Tuesday, November 10, 2009


You thought I forgot to blog today. Wrong.

So a while back I said I'd write about my conundrum about haters on Facebook. I'll try that now. (Sorry it took me so long, Nic).

I have friends, actual people, who do not share my political persuasion. I can handle that. Each to his own and all. But it has put me at a loss when it comes to some of the things they post on Facebook. For example, I have a friend with whom I recently reconnected. I don't remember that he was a conservative of any stripe. Maybe he was and I just never noticed. (Although in the period during which I knew him I was about as radical as ever I was in my life so you'd think it would have come up). During the health care debate he was constantly posting status updates about "Obamacare" and skewing statistics and generally being fairly Glenn Beckish. And I never responded because, despite the wild inaccuracy of some of his stuff, I figure dude is entitled to his opinion. Except sometimes it got pretty outlandish. And what I really wanted to say was, "Remind me again who you work for?" Because he works for a giant insurance company. Hello? But I didn't do it because it seemed petty.

But it still bugged me.

I have another buddy who I really like on so many levels. In this case, I've always known my friend's political leanings and she knows mine. It's nothing to do with the core of our friendship so we let it lie. But sometimes she puts up stuff that is so outrageous that it makes my heart hurt. Seriously. Because, I'm sorry, when you start out a post with name calling that just tells me right away that we're not going to be able to have a civil conversation. Not to mention, it frankly disturbs me when someone who I know to be compassionate and loving sounds so damn hateful - there's no other word for it - when she starts talking about the President.

So what to do?

I think that if I have any charge to lay at the feet of the GOP, and I have one or two, it is this: when did y'all abandon civil debate and discourse. Let's disagree, sure, but can't we do it without the name calling and aspirsions and vitriol? Must we be so certain of our position that we can't entertain even a fair hearing of the other side?

Maybe social media - networking sites and blogs - have made it all too easy to spout an opinion without much risk of challenge. Typically, we all align ourselves with people who generally think as we do. Most of my friends on FB agree with my position about health care (and most other stuff). But it's not that there are people who disagree with me. Again, it's the sheer anger in the disagreement that leaves me completely confounded as to what to do.

In most cases, I don't do anything. I ignore the hateful posts and comment when they put up something pleasant. But that doesn't really do it for me all the time. Especially when the outrage seems so misplaced or perverts facts. But the few times I've come back with anything the response is just more outrage. And the only reason I feel compelled to respond in the first place is partly to serve notice that not everyone agrees with them but mostly it's to try and engage in civil debate.

And then I remember that civil debate isn't possible with someone who so hates this President that they call a health care plan he didn't write "Obamacare".


Bottom line, I got nuthin'. And I think part of the reason is because I'm a Democrat. Because truth be told, one of the things Democrats take heat for is not being tough enough. And that's deserved. I mean, seriously, who do the Democrats have that could be even remotely compared to, say, Ann Coulter? No one. Maybe Jim Carville or Rachael Madow or Keith Obermann. But historically Democrats are not out there in front of issues setting the tone or proclaiming the agenda. Not like Rush and Glenn and all those dudes. And maybe we need more of that but it still has to be truth telling and record setting straight stuff. If we're just gonna get down in the mud and wrestle with the other side and see who can use "why do you hate America" more than the other guy we still haven't gotten much farther ahead, now have we? (And of course, my deep desire for the debate to be more civilized might prove the whole Democrats-aren't-tough-enough argument. But again, if by "tough" we really mean being ugly and playing dirty, I don't want to be tough).

Consequently, I'm guessing that more often than not I'm going to be letting that stuff slide because I don't want to engage when there doesn't seem to be a point in engaging.

But that said, there's one thing I have been thinking about, and it's something that may be employed. Let me go back to a time, a few years ago, when I was visiting the folks. Dame Judi has picture magnets plastered on her fridge. Each picture is of someone she keeps in her daily prayers and she puts them on the fridge because she goes there several times a day and it's a good place to house such reminders. So I'm looking at the pictures and there in the middle is one of George and Laura Bush. And I exclaimed, "Why is there a picture of Bush on here?" (forgetting, in my surprise, that she likely voted for him). "Because," she softly replied, "Scripture tells us to pray for our leaders and that reminds me to do so".


And further more, yes. Admittedly, I didn't pray for George W. Bush as much as my Christian duty called me to do. But there's a lot of wisdom in the notion. First of all, if you're praying for someone, you really can't hate them. And hate is a bad thing. Second, my general philosophy of prayer is that you never know how powerful it can be. I mean, seriously, if every praying person in this nation was intent only on upholding the nation's leaders, whoever they might be and praying for them to be wise and good and focused and if we were doing that on a daily basis, who knows what could happen.

So I'm not going to be going head to head with most of my right wing FB buddies (who also happen to be evangelical Christians). But every now and again I may just leave a comment that says, simply, I Timothy 2:1-2.



Blogger Cliff O'Neill opined...

I had a major event on this front just last week.

As you know, I don't shy away from posting political things, but I try to always bear in mind that I have friends who may or may not be of the same mind. Hence, I feel, I try to watch myself. In the past few years, I've deleted people I didn't really know with whom I disagreed. And, in one case, I had to block an nice old classmate who I was stunned to discover was totally hateful towards a whole race of people.

But, more recently, I discovered that one old classmate with whom I had always wanted to reconnect, was making the rounds of friending other classmates. Excited, I added him, even though I couldn't see his profile at first.

After he accepted, though, I noticed that he billed himself as "so far right, you can't get there by going left." I stressed about that for a few hours. About 8 hours later, I posted an attaboy to Obama for signing the Hate Crimes Bill (for most people, a benign act).

That's when it started. A second friend (a former co-worker) decided to aggressively instigate a discussion on this, thinking it a bad thing. I took the bait and, calmly and respectfully made my case. Not being one to let that be, he came back stronger.

Which is when the classmate piped up. I let that sit. I went for a walk. And then, not wanting to get into a fight, much less allowing friends to fight with friends (which I feared could happen), I deleted them after a while.

This pissed off my classmate and he deleted me, only hours after reconnecting.

I have since put the instigator in time out, relegating him to a "see no updates or posts" status and have hidden him, so I don't have to see his stuff.

Out of respect for us having been acquaintances, I'm not deleting him, though.


November 10, 2009 8:01 PM  
Blogger Leah@Storybook Ranch opined...

I hear ya. I get so mad at myself when something on FB upsets me in real life.

Like the time one of my fb friends said that TWILIGHT was the work of Satan (even though they'd never read it) and that all of her friends who crushed on Edward were adulterers who were being tempted by the occult.

All in her status update...

I found it entertaining & It made me laugh. But, if somebody was constantly spewing hate to a 'captive audience' (ME!), I'd delete or hide them.

November 10, 2009 8:14 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

If ever a seasonal nutshell were able to crystallize my thoughts eloquently,this was it.
In spite of my frequent rants,I.Love.The Two-Party system!
(I believe a one party rule is called a Dictatorship).
I only just yesterday exchanged e-mails with my daughter in defense of a legitimate criticism I think the Right has aginst the House version of the health care bill...The unconstitutional requirement of everyone to purchase insurance.
Like yourself,I can't abide the unilateral venom slinging that a minority of ditto heads are driven to pollute the national conversation with,and also,like you,I have people in my life that I hold dear who happen to subscribe to political views which differ from my own...It's the checks and balances of friendship that keeps us grounded in our shared humanity.

P.S.- I knew you were gonna post something today! ;)

November 10, 2009 8:52 PM  
Blogger Mom opined...

Prayer is always a good response to evil. It is also a good response to good. I love the idea if using scripture as a response. I have hidden several friends because I just got tired of seeing all the hateful, right-wing stuff they posted.

November 10, 2009 9:33 PM  
Blogger Nicole opined...

Ah yes. I've seen a couple of linguistic studies looking at the language used by political parties during debates and meetings. So interesting. In general, Republicans do tend to use insults and name calling quickly. I've had so many of the same issues on fb, I rarely comment on the negative crap that gets posted and eventually just hide their updates. I do find the whole thing very disappointing though.

November 11, 2009 2:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

I have stooped to the namecalling when it comes previous leaders, but that's only because "jackass" is so much easier to say than a name where you have to pronounce the middle initial. Plus, he was a total jackass.

November 11, 2009 6:55 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Cliffie, I had been wanting to try the "hide" thing but I didn't exactly understand how it worked. I may need to try it now...it's not that I want to hide from the differences of opinion, but when it comes in a ball o' hate so big I can't swallow it, that's where I have issues.

Leah, wow. I don't know which is more sad..."Anonymous" haters commenting on blog posts or people who haven't read a book declaiming on it's degree of Satanic-ness. (I think I just made up a word).

Sling, thank you for your faith in me. And you go. See, intelligent debate. It can be done. Apparently all that is required is for everyone to behave intelligently.

Mom, that's the 3rd vote for hiding friends. I see a trend.

Nic, that's the point. The disappointing part. And of course, then there's the whole problem of hiding people and not getting any of the stuff I DO care about...like what is going on in their lives. Which is why I use FB in the first place. Oy. Now I need pie.

JP, but, if I recall, you also waiting to hurl invective after it had been made abundantly clear that the politician in question was actually a jackass. That's something. I'm talking about people who have hated Barack Obama from the get go, before he'd even had a chance to actually do anything to piss them off. (Sometimes I want to ask them, "So what is it that bothers you the most? The fact that he's black or the fact that he's smarter than you?" But I don't. Because I really try not to be mean).

November 11, 2009 7:51 AM  
Blogger rosemary opined...

I rarely use FB....to take a line from Wanda Sykes...We didn't like each other in 5th grade...what makes you think we will like each other now.

I don't know that I could handle the stuff you reference on a "social network." I'd probably have to use a bad word and get kicked off.

I prayed for GWB.....but not exactly in the way I should have I guess....

November 11, 2009 10:00 AM  
Blogger Random Thinker opined...

Facebook has done more to ruin my opinion of some friends and acquaintances than anything else.

Moving forward requires compromise and compromise requires respectful consideration of the other side's point of view. So many people have become like children with their fingers in their ears, humming loudly, unwilling to listen to dissenting opinions. I saw a bumper sticker today that said "Obamacare - Freedom not included" Not only do I not understand it, it just makes me sad. I know that even if I had the opportunity to talk about health care reform with the owner of that sticker, it wouldn't go anywhere.

November 11, 2009 10:24 AM  
Blogger Miss Healthypants opined...

Amen, sistah. Just amen.

I will have to make sure Iwanski reads this post--he can certainly relate to you on this!! :)

November 11, 2009 12:23 PM  
Blogger D.A. opined...

Thanks for this wonderful post, Lorraine. I'm afraid my ignorance of US politics prevents me from engaging with it as fully as I'd like, but I totally relate to the frustration (if that's the right word) you feel towards people who seem to be insensitive about the effects of what they write on blogs, social networking sites etc.

I think that, not too long ago, people were able to save impetuous comments for the confines of their own home and tended to express slightly more articulate, more carefully-worded sentiments in public. Unfortunately, many people now seem to be under the illusion that blogs and Facebook are an extension of their living room. But that's so not true. The public record is being filled every single day with vitriolic, unadulterated, unfiltered bilge. I guess some would say that at least now it's easier to see people's true colours: they wear their hearts on their status updates, for all the world to see. But I don't buy that. I think society makes progress when people know how to behave sensitively in public and know how to engage in an intelligent debate.

Oh my God, speaking of vitriolic bilge, I'd better stop...

November 12, 2009 5:14 AM  
Blogger Iwanski opined...

Lorraine, this blog post should be in Newsweek.

"Mini Pulitzer" for you.

I have lots of conservative FB friends. That doesn't bother me, and I let 90% of political stuff slide by with no comment. After all, I was a Republican myself, at one point, but that only lasted until my brain and my conscience got together and mated... creating me.

One of my newer FB friends is a girl I dated many years ago. When we went out, she was liberal and good looking. All these years later, she adds me on FB. Now she's a right-wing Limbaugh-parroting, Fox News mis-educated, tinfoil hat case. And, to top it off, she now looks like Ed Asner. I did not delete her, because that would be a jerk thing to do, times two.

Still, I don't see a reunion lunch in our future.

November 12, 2009 11:54 PM  

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