My Facebook page has been blowing up since October. You see, that liberal echo chamber that many coastal elites cocoon themselves within never applied to my social media stratosphere. Growing up on a farm in rural Maryland and being an active member of the agricultural community around the United States, then moving to Chicago, going to college in PA, and now living in Arlington has made my social media world a pretty good barometer of the actual USA. The ratio of college educated white women to everyone else is certainly a little off, but I'm friends with the staunchest of conservatives and the most left-wing liberals. I see it all, from Occupy Democrats to Freedom Daily.
It's for this reason that while many of my friends believed that what is happening in America now would never actually happen, in the back of my head, I knew there was a chance.
I prefer to see some things with which I disagree, than to shut out people who are not like me. However, the temptation to block, unfollow, unfriend, has never been stronger than it is now.
There's something to say for being able to understand the other side, for civil discourse, and caring for people whether you agree or disagree. Social media can unite people across the world over something as simple as a meme created from an awkward school photo, and divide people over a misused ingredient in a recipe video. It's fun, it's addictive, and it's powerful.
November 9th turned my Facebook feed into a battleground.
The danger is that people you've always liked, people you grew up with, even family members, can mutate into unrecognizable figures. Armchair politicians who are experts in everything you can google, casting blame for all the world's problems on everyone but themselves.
Then sometimes you look in the mirror and realize that you've become one too.
What is the point of social media conflict? Can a well-placed article or a well-written comment string really have the power to change someone's mind?
Does Desmond Tutu's famous statement, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor" apply also to social media ranting?
Where do you, and where should I, draw the line between engaging and letting go?