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GEEKNOTE: Facebook and Politics

Taking care when posting or believing anything about politics on Facebook.

GEEKNOTE: I've been a bit of a political observer since back in high school. I had a fellow by the name of Jack Moss as an American History instructor. Mr. Moss made an effort to make each of us think about the people and ideas that shaped our country's history. 

I also took a propaganda course, "Americanism vs. Communism," that was required for all students to take in order to graduate. The instructor for that class made a point of identifying the class for what it was and, like Mr. Moss, went out of his way to get us to think. We talked about what made America different from the Soviet Union above and beyond the simplistic jingos in the textbook. The instructor ultimately became involved himself in New Port Richey city government before moving on to bigger and better things.  Those of you in Pasco County might know him. His name is John Gallagher. Yep, THAT John Gallagher.

One of the things that BOTH of these great teachers did was force us to THINK and not blindly believe anything that we heard. With all due respect, quite a few of the folks I chat with on facebook would do well to take refresher courses in both American History and critical thinking.

A lot has been made the last couple of years about the TEA Party. They dress up in colonial outfits and invoke the memories of our founding fathers. Far be it from me to point out that, other than on not wanting to pay taxes, they are generally advocating positions that would have made them Tories back in the day. The REAL radicals back in 1776 were our founding fathers, and they were advocating the violent overthrow of the existing government!

Just because somebody posts something on Facebook does NOT make it true.   Far too many folks follow and exchange messages just with other people who believe exactly the same thing as they do, and Facebook just serves to reinforce the misinformation that keeps getting repeated. I'll spare you examples, but I've seen them from both extremes of the political spectrum  The key is to remember, that just because something is on Facebook (or anywhere on the Internet) does NOT make it true.

For the last week, we've been deluged with all sorts of nonsense from the far right of the political spectrum. I fully expect we will have an equal deluge of nonsense from the far left this coming week. 

It is perfectly okay to tweak your friends of the opposite end of the  political spectrum when they post something silly on facebook. Heaven knows I do, and since I fashion myself as a moderate, I get to enjoy tweaking my friends on BOTH the far left and the far right.

The key is to keep things light.  Don't take ANY of this too seriously and certainly don't unfriend some high school classmate from back in the day simply because he or she has gone off the deep end during the current election season.  He or she will get over it and so should you.

Keep in mind that a good part of what is wrong with Washington is that people are shouting AT each other rather than chatting with each other over a beer after a hard day's work. It would be a shame to allow our personal relationships on Facebook to be poisoned by the same sort of rancor.  If you wouldn't say something to a friend over the proverbial beer, DON'T post it on facebook.

As an aside:  One of the things I've loved about my time on city council is that we've all generally managed to find common ground on virtually every issue that has come before us.  Yes, I've been on the losing side of some four to one votes, but those have been rare as we all work hard to find solutions we can all accept and that move the city forward. Florida's Sunshine law doesn't allow us to sit down and chat through our differences over drinks, but we've managed to work together for the greater good in spite of our differences.

In summary, when you go on Facebook and see a political rant from one of your friends, take a deep breath and relax before you do something rash.  We made great use of the DVD player and DVR last week to avoid watching ANY of the convention coverage. We'll no doubt do the same this week. Don't take any of the speeches or talking heads seriously and try to relax.  

As always, feel free to drop me a note or give me a call if you have any questions about your computer or the Internet.

Rob Marlowe, Senior Geek, Gulfcoast Networking, Inc.
http://www.gulfcoastnetworking.com

(Rob also serves as deputy mayor of the City of New Port Richey. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the city.)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Richard Slager September 03, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Thank you for your views - I receive so much incorrect or erroneous information from friends, I want to scream. If I have never checked it out before, I go to Fact Check or Snopes and do some research and then if they are passing incorrect information on, I send them what I find out. It is effective but probably not appreciated. One friend told me that she never voted for any party but XXX and has no idea of what they are presently advocating - that is a shame and as a registered Independent, I can truly say that I have voted for both parties during my many years of voting going back to President/General Eisenhower. Our two parties have gone too far right or left and are unwilling to work together for the betterment of our country. That is a shame and I wish I had the answer - but being 78 in a couple of months, I don't expect to see how things will work out - but for sure, our country at this rate will not live as long as the Roman Empire and we are definitely headed for a rich or poor society - which I have seen in many countries. WHAT A SHAME!!!!!!!!
Roxie Spell September 03, 2012 at 02:06 PM
It is the truth. I have found that I have friends on both sides of the fence in ANY issue. I want to keep them as my friends. My Mother always told me not to believe everything you read, and I don't.

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