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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Writing on Social Media Comes With Responsibility

                                                   

                                                      Image result for mean politics

Facebook is a polyglot combination of disparate things. Almost anyone can find what they want and block what they don't want. Maybe you don't like kittens or recipes or being guilted into giving someone cyber-hugs or reading religious exhortations. Or maybe you don't like politics.

That's all fine. To each his own. But kittens and recipes and hugs and sermons don't have the affect of changing lives on a large scale the way politics can. We should all be interested in politics because what our country is and does depends on it and that impacts you and yours.

Do you think abortion should be legal or illegal? Do you think Syrian refugees should be taken in to America? Do you think guns should be allowed in your child's school? What do you think we should do about ISIS? Should the minimum raise be raised? Should 11 million illegal aliens be deported or allowed to stay in the U.S.? Should torture be illegal? Is climate change a real thing?

Those who say there is no difference between the parties and that all politicians are the same are absolutely wrong. Look at the list above again. Depending on your answers, you are either closer to conservative Republican thinking or closer to liberal Democratic thinking. If you throw up your hands in disgust and ignore the political process, you are a lazy American.

The political junkies among us (count me in) have all become writers thanks to social media. We all try to put words together that will convince others to our way of thinking. Often the posts on Facebook are 100% perception and 0% facts. If you are trying to figure out whether someone's words are true or not, see if there is meat on the bone of their contention. If they are bitching about Obama leaving Iraq too soon, have they read the actual Status of Forces Agreement George Bush negotiated with Iraq? If not, they don't know what they are talking about.

If they are whining about NAFTA, have they actually read the Agreement? Do they know what NAFTA actually said and did? If not, they are making an emotional pitch, not a reality-based one.

Unless you are writing fiction, your writing is expected to be honest. There is a lot of political fiction out there in cyber-space that tries to pass itself off as non-fiction. Political posters need to be specific. I have a friend who believes Obama is the worst president we ever had and is engaged in the destruction of America. I asked, "so you think things were better in 2008 than they are now?"

"Absolutely," she said.

I asked her if she could be more specific (employment? stock market? Americans in harm's way? foreclosures? oil dependence? auto industry?) but she declined to answer.

In my opinion, anyone who is interested in politics needs to listen to every side of the story and seriously consider who may be right. If you surround yourself with either a conservative or liberal media bubble, you don't have a clue about what is real. If you block all the friends with whom you disagree politically, you're out of touch. I have a long commute for my work and I listen to all sides of political talk radio. I have Facebook friends of all political persuasions and I try to listen to the other side with respect.

Votes are really the main thing. The voting records of politicians aren't hard to find via Google. Look at the list of issues again. Did your favored representative vote in a way that pleased you most of the time or did you just pull and R or a D in the voting booth because of habit?

If you question whether something is true, you can always go to www.Snopes.com. You can monitor the fact-checking websites like Politifact or Factchecker.com.

Choosing whom we want to vote for is serious business and determines the future of the country. Granted, kittens are precious but kittens aren't going to raise the minimum wage or send our kids to war.