At the Huffington Post, Deborah Plummer explains why, although her real-life political debates are productive, the ones that take place on the social networking site bring her down.
I didn't want to miss the updates on my family's and friends' careers, weddings, vacations, births, deaths, and precious family and cute pet pictures that I have come to enjoy on Facebook, so as a way to avoid the ugly debates, I decided not to read or post anything of a political nature. As I have never been one to sit on the sidelines when I could get in the game, my resolve not to post or comment did not last long. With the intent of fostering dialogue and the hope of recreating the kind of informative conversations I found with my real-life friends who crossed political parties, I posted a few political pieces and attempted to post some comments to a friend's political posting. My postings and comments to post were crafted to be facilitative and foster dialogue rather than debate. Needless to say, the only thing I might have facilitated was being "unfriended" on Facebook.
Unfortunately, a powerful tool for social exchange serves as yet another forum for partisan politics. I realize that politics have a long history of being divisive, and conversations about politics among family and friends have often been characterized as uncivil. We are socialized to never discuss politics as proper etiquette. And absent controlled classroom discussions most of us, especially as adults, lack any kind of forum to develop and practice the critical thinking skills that are so necessary to understand the complexity of today's governance issues. As a result, we operate out of a flat intelligence that reduces complex political issues to sound bites swallowed whole and spewed out like stimulus-response actions of Pavlov's dog. We then believe that political parities are monolithic and demonize those of the opposing party. And this display of flat intelligence plays out on Facebook. No surprise.
Read Deborah Plummer's entire piece at the Huffington Post.
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