Social media platforms like Facebook can be very useful, informative and entertaining. I can scroll through my feed and see recent news stories, memes, pictures of my young cousins and posts about all my friends’ thoughts on national issues.
I love being able to use Instagram and Facebook to keep in touch with my relatives across the country, but some posts are better left unseen – or unposted.
I know many people with extremely strong political views. For example, I’m close friends with a New Hampshire State Representative, who, as his job requires, is very knowledgeable and passionate about politics. He’s a very conservative Republican and has many opinions, many of which I respectfully disagree with.
I have post notifications turned on for him because I don’t want to miss any pictures of his adorable grandchildren, but that means I also don’t miss any of his statements about gun control, transgender rights and marijuana legalization.
When I see such things on Facebook, I remind myself that a public platform is not the place to argue with people I care about.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares that sentiment.
Although I try not to contribute to heated online political debates, it’s all too easy to fall into the rabbit-hole of reading comment threads.
Some posts have comments that are sweet and supportive, but in the realm of politics, that’s often not the case.
A while ago, my politician friend posted something criticizing the #enough movement, a post I read, cringed at and opted to scroll past – then a comment caught my eye.
Someone had claimed that the shooting in Parkland, Fla. hadn’t actually happened and that it was just a publicity stunt staged by the far left to promote their liberal agenda.
Naturally, I wasn’t too enthused about that statement and neither were the people who responded to him.
I watched as reply after reply popped up. Some of them agreed with the original commenter, some vehemently tearing apart his claim, often resorting to insults in favor of open discussion.
Comment threads like that make me lose a little respect for humanity. That particular one made me so disappointed and disgusted that I uninstalled Facebook from my phone for quite some time.
Political beliefs aside, the reality is that children and teens are dying in a place where they should never have to be concerned about their safety. I have young siblings in school. I plan to be a teacher one day. I want my sisters, brothers and future students to live.
I don’t pretend to know how to make that happen. I’m willing to discuss my thoughts with others and am open to hearing about theirs. Personally, I don’t think a public platform is the place to do that. If someone wants to have a reasonable, respectful discussion on Facebook, so be it, but a heated argument riddled with unfounded accusations and ad hominem attacks? Never.
Social media, like many things in life, is defined by how people use it. It can be an easy way for people to stay caught up with what their loved ones are doing or it can be a place where people get in angry debates and destroy relationships.
It can’t be both.
Kalila Brooks can be contacted at email@example.com