The Brain Stem Nature of American Politics on Facebook: And What We Can Do About It.

I enjoy Facebook. It is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends and share an encouraging word with one another.

I enjoy it until people (from every political stripe) get the idea that Facebook is a great soapbox to express their political views with inflammatory, mean, and just plain simpleton posts – often just unthinking and regurgitated materials from the stinking bowels of the internet. This knee jerk, primitive brain stem, reactionary drivel is the very last thing we need in our country.

What we need so desperately instead are citizens who actually can think critically and logically for more than 10 seconds, and with great and Godly wisdom be able to reason and debate on the basis of facts and reason – not on what everyone else in our social “tribe”, party or allegiance thinks. What we need are citizens who have a great capacity to be generous and humble and trusting of our fellow countrymen. What we need are citizens who strive in every way to be upright and noble: individuals who are not willing to stoop to the often (at least seemingly, if not actually) illegitimate practices of those who are on the other side of the political divide.

What has happened to our country is that we are so polarized and hard-headed and just plain ignorant (on all sides) that we fail to see ourselves as a “we” anymore. Our hearts are so full of hubris that we can now only see ourselves in groups that are called “us” (the good guys) and a “them” (the bad guys.) This is a very sad state of affairs.

So what can we do about it?  Actually not much.  The most we can do sometimes is start with ourselves.  But this is no small thing.

IF one is so tempted to be politically verbose on sites like Facebook, my best advice is JUST DON’T DO IT. If one falls to temptation, they have a good chance of wrecking my good day – and seriously, why would anyone want to do that? The reality is that for the most part it is a useless endeavor and a waste of everyone’s time and brain cells. People who like the poster’s politics will all like their posts. If they don’t like their politics they will ignore them and brand them as a crazy. No one’s mind is going to be changed by any of our huffing and puffing on Facebook.

However… If someone insists on it, here are a few “Bjornstad Rules of Etiquette” that will help everyone if we follow them:

  1. “Just say “NO” to reposting.
  2. Just say “NO” to posting anything that is not true and verifiable (and please list the sources).
  3. If you have an opinion on an issue – write your own post. Use complete sentences. Have a controlling purpose statement. Make sure everything is spelled right. Make the impression (at least) that you know what you are talking about.
  4. Actually KNOW what you are talking about. Take the time to study the issue – from all sides (honestly). Know it inside and out. Think about what the objections to your opinion might be and speak to them. If you don’t know the issue you have no credibility to write an opinion.
  5. Just say “YES” to logic, reason, and winsome reasonableness.  Forget the over-the-top statements.
  6. Ask the question “What does this post really contribute to the conversation?” Is there anything new? If it is just basically the same idea you posted three times already today, just so “NO”. It is already garbage clogging the sewer pipe.
  7. Stay positive. Sometimes it might be necessary to state very real problems – but even then feel free to do as Luther states in the Small Catechism: “always explain everything in the kindest way.”

I am hardly the exemplary model poster on Facebook. But it is time for me to do better. I hope and pray we ALL can do better together.