You'll Never Change Someone's Mind With A Political Rant On Facebook
You're mad, I know. There's a very pressing political issue in the news that you feel very strongly about, and the world is an unfair place, and you're mad.
Only you know the truth. Only you know how to solve this problem. Nobody else knows what they're talking about, and it's your duty to inform them about what is going on and how to fix it. Where can you inform the most amount of people, in the least amount of time, that you are so angry and so correct? For whom can you answer the question, "What's on your mind?"
If you guessed Facebook, you're right; that little text box at the top of your news feed would love to know what you're thinking -- It's asking you, after all! -- which is a superfluous jumble of venomous thoughts about feminism or the Gaza strip or abortions or global warming.
However, if you guessed the people you're friends with on Facebook, you're wrong. Very wrong. Those people would seriously prefer that you not try to convince them to believe in what you believe in, and that instead you limit your Facebook posts to funny articles and spring break pictures.
It feels like it's every day that one of my right-wing extended cousins is posting a long-winded status about ISIS, or one of my social justice warrior friends is posting a three-inch paragraph about why people should start using the word cisgender.
We could debate all day about these issues on Facebook, but unless one of these people is an AP war correspondent or a queer social science professor, nobody's opinion is going to change even slightly, and nobody will give a sh*t.
Do you honestly think that someone is going to experience an epiphany upon reading your enraged Facebook post? Is that how debates work? People who are steadfast in their beliefs are likely not going to alter those beliefs without conducting lots of research by themselves and on their own time.
Shoving beliefs down people's throats doesn't work in real life, and it doesn't work on Facebook, either. Nobody will change unless they want to change.
If you somehow get locked into a political conversation on Facebook, you'll find yourself growing even more enraged as you realize you can't answer people's paragraph-long responses as quickly as you wished you could because you can't type fast enough. Angry Facebook rants also tend to be very polarized: Complex political issues get turned into black-and-white, right-and-wrong displays of whoever-gets-the-most-likes-on-this-rebuttal-comment losses or wins.
This detrimental for people who don't have a lot of politically active friends to "like" comments to demonstrate support, and beneficial for people who have a lot of annoying friends. See how I equated "engages in political debates on Facebook" with "annoying"?
It won't be until two hours and dozens of notifications later that you'll see that the solution here is to give up on finding one. Soon, you'll have forgotten what you were even arguing about in the first place. This could either be because you've stopped caring or because you stopped trying to scroll up a million times to find a specific thing someone said earlier in the debate to call them out on.
The worst part about Facebook debates is when you think it's over and someone comes in and re-comments. Perhaps that person was involved in the debate earlier and had disappeared temporarily to eat dinner or something and have now returned with a vengeance.
Or perhaps someone new just became inspired by your rant about fiscal conservatism and absolutely needed to jump in. Either way, that person is the worst, because everyone knows what happens when you re-comment on something: it gets a boost in the news feed.
What did all of this accomplish? Was either side convinced during this debate? Nope. And every single one of your old high school friends has documented evidence of your bloodshed and is likely screenshotting it on their phones and sending it to their friends. To make fun of you.
I realize this may be harsh, but there are other outlets for political debates. Blogs, the comment section on news websites, op-ed pieces -- those are real forums to debate real political opinions, and the writers on these websites and the people who engage with one another on those forums want to hear what you have to say.
But when I'm just trying to mindlessly scroll through my Facebook news feed to entertain myself with some pictures of cats and casually analyze my crush's profile, the last thing I want is for someone to try to convince me that Anita Sarkeesian's work on sexism in video games is annoying. Just stop. You won't convince me. Also, you're wrong. I can say that because this is not Facebook.