A good friend of mine posted this on Facebook along with a link to the US Constitution: “If you are ever afraid to express your political opinion you should read your forefathers’ will.”
Immediately I started to analyze whether or not I am afraid to express my political opinions. I don’t express my political opinions on Facebook very much. I don’t express political opinions at work, except maybe in subtle passing comments meant to fly over the head of anyone who may be listening. I do that for my own amusement mostly, but also I think I do it because I’m sort of hoping that someone will get it, and that way I can identify the people with whom I feel comfortable expressing my political opinions. It feels good to belong, and sometimes I can belong to a secret underground society of people who think like I do. I understand that the practice of talking over people’s heads can make me look like a jerk, but I imagine some certain pharisees thought the same thing about a certain wise man who said “He who hath ears to hear let him hear.”
Okay so, it wasn’t just a wise man who said that -- it was a god (Oops! There I go running my mouth again!).
Where was I? Oh yes. I was talking about places where I don’t express my political opinion. Let me see. Come to think of it, I don’t express my political opinion in most places. Work? No. The grocery store? No. Facebook? No. Church? Nooooo way! Maybe I AM afraid to express my political opinions.
Or maybe I’ve made a conscious decision not to express my political opinions, not because I’m afraid, but because I don’t see the point. It’s not that I don’t think my political opinions matter. In fact, they most certainly DO matter to me, and that’s why I can’t bring myself to express them on Facebook.
There are some fundamental reasons why I don’t like sharing political opinions on Facebook. First, look at how political opinions get shared on Facebook. The majority of the political opinions I see on Facebook come in the form of posting some article, meme or video that gets re-posted a million times by all my friends. If you repost the piece, or if you simply like it, you’ve expressed your political opinion and you appear to be civically minded. Your friends who think like you approve, and your friends who disagree continue to secretly think you are stupid. Do this enough times, and your friends who disagree with you eventually block you altogether. NOBODY EVER CHANGES THEIR POLITICAL OPINIONS IN THIS SCENARIO. It is for entertainment purposes only, which is fine if that’s what you like, but it just doesn’t do it for me.
The second reason why I don’t express political opinions on Facebook is this: The constraints of time and my smartphone are not conducive to the way I prefer to express my political opinions. I have lots of opinions. They are extremely lengthy and well thought out opinions. They are very nuanced opinions that cannot be fully expressed with that damn smartphone keyboard. And nothing drives me crazier than not being able to fully express my opinion before somebody thinks they understand it and dismisses me as the nut they always thought I was. There’s nothing more infuriating than when somebody is too caught up in arguing with you that they fail to appreciate the fact that you actually agree with them on almost everything. I cannot bring myself to express myself in that kind of a format. If you want my opinion, give me a couple of days, and I’ll deliver it to you in a Google Doc or email it to you in a pdf, so you can’t put words in my mouth by typing over it. Not that you would do that, but you COULD.
And speaking of nuanced opinions, let me tell you about the Duck Dynasty guy. Here it is: I agree with everything he said. I agree with his views on God and homosexuality and the Bible. I even agree with his preference of female parts over male parts -- wholeheartedly. I just wouldn’t have said it like that.
I don’t really agree with the statement that the LGBT people put out, but I can see why they would be offended. I just don’t think they were offended in the same way I would have been offended. Maybe they were offended by the Duck Dynasty guy’s crude reference to people’s privates and the callous way he treated the topic of sexual intimacy, but that’s not really what I got out of their statement. They seemed to be offended mainly by the fact that the guy believes in the Bible and that homosexual behavior is a sin (No they're not Andy! That's not fair! It's about equality and you're not very Christian!). And rather than agreeing to disagree with they guy, they decide to do everything in their power to ruin his TV show. And that’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t exactly move me to action. Those duck call people have a very successful business outside of the TV show. They’ll be fine, and A&E should be able to make or not make a TV show about anyone they chose. So, I’m not going to make the duck dude my profile picture. I’m not going to repost the same story from The Blaze that all my friends posted, because A) I don’t care to associate myself with the rude sex stuff, and B) I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I’ve jumped on the Duck Dynasty guy’s bandwagon, because even though I pretty much agree with his political and religious opinions today, he could very well do something tomorrow that I would want nothing to do with.
Oh and, I’ve only seen Duck Dynasty a couple of times. Meh.
Now, if you would like my opinion about any of the topics I touched upon here (the US Constitution, Jesus, religion, homosexuality, etc.) I’d be happy to share it with you privately, but it’s not going to do anybody any good if I thrust it upon your Facebook feed and you block it. Also, if you want my opinion, I’m assuming it’s because you haven’t fully formed your own, and you want my advice on what to think. Like most people, I’m happy to offer you that service free of charge. It’s just that I rarely encounter such a person. You probably already have an opinion on every one of those things, and I respect that. Let’s just avoid the argument and remain friends by talking about something else, like Macaulay Culkin and those fantastic Home Alone movies (of course just the first two). Now I've offended some sorry sap who actually liked 3 and 4. Block away!