After years of resistance, I finally created a Facebook account three months ago. My usage of this platform has been almost exclusively for both gaining knowledge of and analyzing current events. As I have been scrolling through my news feed lately, I have seen a litany of posts suggesting that Facebook is not the forum to discuss “politics” or “opinions.” There are at least three problems with this line of thought:
1). Such an idea hinges upon an intellectually bankrupt definition of politics. Proponents of this declaration often reduce politics to polarizing topics like social injustice. This misses the fact that, unlike animals, all human life is political. The moment we were born, our first and last names were recorded by the State for purposes of taxation and surveillance. As soon as we say “my name is …” we have made a political statement. Our homes, food, clothes, technology etc all depend upon a political system. Every time we login to Facebook, we are making a political statement. A politics-free zone does not exist.
2). The decision to not speak about ‘political’ topics is political. In a lot of cases, it is a decision to ignore injustice altogether: a key component of white supremacy, patriarchy, and classism. Telling people (their family/friends) to keep politics off Facebook is, really, an attempt to shame critics and victims into silence. We should just grin and bear it, and post selfies that make the privileged and powerful feel comfortable, right?
Quite frankly, I question the ethics of anyone who has hundreds or even thousands of people following them on a social platform, yet they opt to not raise consciousness in some fashion.
3). The American public is becoming less and less capable of having a thoughtful dialogue (as the Republican debates showed us). Nearly 1/3 Americans cannot name the Vice President or a single right from the First Amendment, and 66% of people cannot name anyone on the Supreme Court. Looks like Facebook needs more political discussion – instead of attempting to abolish it.
I will continue to post about politics on Facebook. Here is a reminder for those who don’t like it: there is an unfriend button. Use it.