Comparatively, I don’t have a whole lot of friends on Facebook– 99. I am NOT going to crisis over into the 100 realm, no sir. It sounds harsh, but as soon as I finish up this degree I’m going to do some serious pruning.
Politics and Facebook is starting to bug me a little. While I do, actually, know all 99 of the people in my friend list I don’t know them all the same– some people are fellow students who I have classes with, some are drinkin’ buddies, some are former professors. So, when I update my status to be all “O-BAM-A” that goes out to everyone on my friend list. Generally speaking I feel strongly about my political beliefs, especially a woman’s right to choose, but I don’t talk about this with everyone I know. And frankly, I’m not sure that everyone knowing everyone else’s political beliefs is all that helpful.
Gone are the days that Republicans and Democrats could be friends (let alone date)– these days you can filter out friends based on their political views before you even “really” become friends. Instead of one of those delightful moments when you look at someone and say, “wait… are you a Republican/Democrat” we know this from moment 1. Lately, I’ve wondered if this is stifling dialogue about the nuances of campigns– I see my friend’s status-updates saying more-or-less the same thing in one giant cycle of self-affirmation.
I know that I am a little behind the times when it comes to the notion that Facebook still encourages group think (if all my friends support X I should to). I also know that this possibility for subtle, cyber peer pressure is why Facebook is ideal for politics and marketers. However, as we get within a week of the election I wonder if I’d be more informed and more interested in the issues if I knew someone, anyone who didn’t agree with me…
So, although I’ve spent the past few weeks singing the praises of Planned Parenthood’s Facebook campaign, today I am wondering if Facebook makes it all too easy to “vet” your friends politics before you understand them as people. Planned Parenthood is still doing wonderful things and I am still incredibly supportive of them. For now though, lets all take a moment to consider what Facebook’s ability to target us has also allowed us to prevent conversations. Yes, an old complaint– but I think still relevant.