Why I Should Avoid Facebook (But Don't) During Election Season

If we can’t all just get along online, can we at least call a moratorium on multiple exclamation points?

by Mel Miskimen
computer with keyboard burning image
Photograph: Shutterstock.com

I check my Facebook page three, four times a day. I like to catch up, read between the lines of other people’s posts and feel that much better about my little life. My problem is avoiding the political comments and one-liners that alienate people.

I know that I should exercise caution—and restraint—when reading posts by my politically polar-opposite friends and family members. But when they deride my candidate, it’s like they are deriding me, and what am I supposed to do? (Let the record show, they started it.)

Testy? Uh, that was three months ago. We’ve gone way beyond testy and have crossed over into rancor. Our back-and-forth posts have descended into shouting matches—I’m talking ALL CAPS followed by three, four, seven exclamation points with grimacing emoticons.

After each presidential debate, the rational voice in my head says, “Do not visit their pages. It will not end well."

Do I listen? No.

I think I can go ahead and take a quick glance. Just read their Super PAC rhetoric and get out. In hindsight, I'd have been better off clicking over to J. Crew or Anthropologie to see what was on sale, maybe order myself a sweater. But I think I can handle it, that my undies will remain unbundled. I scroll. There is cheering. (Not surprising. I expect that.) But there is also condescension. Smugness.

Game on.

I end up spending the morning and part of the afternoon surfing the Web looking for that perfect, proving-my-point video clip. I cut. I paste. I type a follow-up and wait. Two minutes later, a counter attack. I parry. They lunge. And we're off. A few words. Then a sentence. A paragraph. And before you know it, dueling manifestos. But to what end?

We used to have different opinions on a lot of things. Our allegiances to professional football teams, for one. And musically? My friends had a lot to learn. Plus, they were in the Prince Charles camp while I was a Diana loyalist. You know what always pulled us out of our corners and brought us back together? A good, old-fashioned Kennedy scandal.

I don’t know what’s going to happen after the election. Will we be able to put aside our differences and pass the stuffing at Thanksgiving? Will I be off the Christmas-card list? At this point, unless the Camelot clan comes up with something deliciously sordid, it’s not looking good.

Mel Miskimen is a frequent contributor to More and More.com. Click here to buy her book, Cop's Kid: A Milwaukee Memoir

Mel tackles male menopause: Managing His He-Invention.

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