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.
(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.)