Vol. CLIII, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

If you can’t say it in three sentences, don’t put it on Facebook

We’ve all seen it. The endless comments cycle, the points, counterpoints, petty personal attacks and passive aggressive emoticons that hail the out-of-control Facebook thread.

There’s even a fan page for this phenomenon that I’ve been tempted to join recently, aptly titled “63 Notifications Later and I Regret Liking Your Status.”

While several species of status updates have the potential to become out-of-control threads, I’m not talking about the personal milestones that bring family, friends and forgotten high school creepers out of the interweb woodwork, like engagements or birthdays. I’m referring to political rants. And my conclusion is this: They don’t belong on Facebook.

As a study abroad student with a dearth of homework, I admit I spend enough time perusing the site to be generally up to date on who’s recuperating from the sniffles or attending MY SISTER SAID IF I GET ONE MILLION FANS SHE WILL NAME HER BABY MEGATRON. I’ve also formed some opinions about the marriage of Facebook and personal politics, and come up with this.

Acceptable: Amy just became an auntie!! 7 lbs 4 ounces!!!

Unacceptable: Tim is simultaneously infuriated and bemused by the utter idiocy/impotence of Congress and is now seriously contemplating relocating himself to the nearest druid commune/benevolent dictatorship/uninhabited island with no CSPAN how ironic that we pride ourselves on being a “democracy” when in actuality it’s just like what my one politics professor said sophomore year about the (See More)

First example: Cute. Succinct. Everybody loves baby photos.

Second example: Out of control. Shut it down.

In the immediate wake of the health care bill, I’ve stumbled upon many instances of ad lib, amateur politicizing on good ol’ FB. And depending upon the culprit, my first thought is often, I’d rather read about that person than their politics. You may argue that’s a fine line (or a slippery slope), since promoting one’s political proclivities via Facebook could be called just another means of self-expression. So to make things more clear cut, I’ve developed a simple strategy for diagnosing those pesky rants: If you can’t say it in three sentences, it doesn’t belong on Facebook.

Twitter says you have to condense your thoughts into 140 characters. I say if you can’t wrap it up in three or four hundred, transfer whatever’s left to that personal blog with the seven-inch URL.

It isn’t that political discussions are bad; they’re not. But Facebook is the wrong platform on which to stage them. Regardless of the authors’ political standing, whenever I see those exhaustive threads, I always think to myself, couldn’t you have done something more productive in the time it took you to craft that three-paragraph comment, complete with citations? It’s great to care about the issues, but why try to compete with spring break photo albums and Farmville invitations and all of that other meaningless news feed fodder we love to hate but still sift through dutifully each day? Why not do yourself a favor and join an election campaign, have coffee with a friend or professor or even write a letter to the editor? Obviously, more people look at Facebook than read The Pio (for example) but a college newspaper still serves as a far superior medium through which to voice your opinions about politics, hopefully with punctuation.

That said, there’s certainly room for some infotainment on Facebook. Instead of launching a hyperbolic takeover of the home page, just link me to the Huffington Post.

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