When Facebook and fanaticism collide – the ugly underbelly of politics

Facebook is a very useful form of social media.

It is also way too easy to use and abuse it, especially during election cycles.

With the presidential race showcasing two of the most despised candidates in memory, Facebook has gone from seeing my friends post status updates, photos of recent trips and the occasional hilarious meme to watching them slowly morph into crazed zealots pushing for the candidate they feel is the least evil.

Normally, I have to unfollow a friend once in a blue moon because they put up so many posts that my timeline turns into a neverending soliloquy about that one person. This week, I’ve had to unfollow three friends, all because they’re on political missions, and they’re under the impression that one impassioned plea for or against Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton isn’t enough.

Instead of picking a single argument and making their case in a rational and sensible manner, they engage in post warfare, bombarding my timeline and that of countless others with a blitzkrieg of memes, links to questionable websites and online opinion pieces with countless evidence on why their candidate is a radiant saint, and the other one is Lucifer made flesh on our plane of existence.

The worst ones are when people start pestering friends who, like me, believe that neither the Republican or Democratic choices for president are suitable to move our country into the next stage of evolution. If these friends dare to suggest making a choice for a third-party candidate, then they are attacked by those who drank a little too much of the Trump or Clinton Kool-Aid and told that the vote for a different candidate is a vote against their savior.

I’ve seen friends, colleagues, even former teachers go from posting occasional updates of their lives to engaging in daily bombardments showing the despicable acts of the candidate on the other side of the political spectrum, and instead of convincing me that I should vote for their candidate, they’ve convinced me that they’re at a level of lunacy that requires a time out in a rubber room. Rational debate has turned into repeated beatings over the head with a metaphorical baseball bat. A bat doesn’t get your point across; it just causes brain damage.

I don’t lean to the left or the right. I don’t subscribe to all of the ideals of either the conservative or liberal agenda. I believe in gay marriage and adequate funding for the arts. I also believe in not spending more than you have and in your right to own a gun—so long as you don’t try to use that gun to kill me.

I also don’t succumb well under pressure. You’re not going to convert me with a barrage of tweets, memes and other Facebook shrapnel. What you’ll succeed in doing is making me stop following your posts. I won’t unfriend you, because that would be closed-minded, but I’m also not going to spend a lot of time dredging through all of your muck to find out how all of my friends are doing today.

I tend to have strong opinions on certain issues, and at times can be a little verbose. However, I usually get my point across in one shot, rather than pecking my audience to death like some maniacal duck. Some of the folks on my Facebook friends list would do well to consider this approach, as what they are doing is more of a turnoff than a way to convince me that you’re right.

If you’re a staunch conservative, good for you. If you’re liberal, same kudos. I only need you to let me know once or twice what your views. After that, I’ll draw the conclusion that, Republican or Democrat, you’re just nuts. You’re perfectly entitled to free speech; just don’t expect the rest of us to stick around once you’ve volleyed 10 or 20 rabid posts at us. Some of us prefer to live our lives.

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