The Politics of Silence

A few minutes ago I read this post about Meghan McCain’s boobs and it got me thinking. Warning–this post is kind of tangental to the post about Meghan and not directly relevant to the original.

About a year ago I made a decision to stop posting about politics online. With the exception of very few issues I try to keep quiet about political matters, and increasingly, religious matters. I’m a lot happier because of it.

The problem, as I see it, is that places like Facebook and Twitter don’t foster meaningful dialogue about politics. This is especially true of Twitter–140 characters isn’t enough to delve into any issue, even if you post a link. Sure, there are conversations that happen there–I’ve had them myself–but it is easy to take things out of context because it’s impossible to follow every thread of every conversation. At some point someone is going to assume you’re a jerk based on a snippet of conversation that might not have much bearing on how you actually feel about a subject. How could it when the original conversation originated 24 hours ago, took place between ten people (some of which you don’t follow), and began with a link to a relevant blog post or news story, now long buried in a barrage of tweets?

To me, this fosters anger and misunderstanding, and it’s ultimately not productive. Unless, of course, your aim is to provoke, and then you become just another asshole on the Internet.

Facebook isn’t much better. It’s mostly just a place to further the culture of ugly sound bites and noise we are increasingly comfortable with. Unless I’m willing to truly engage, and this means making sure I know exactly what the hell I’m talking about on any social/political issue I post about it, I’m better off keeping my mouth shut.

Otherwise, I’m just another asshole on the Internet.

There are times when I feel like my choice to be silent is a copout, the result of my cowardice and dislike of confrontation. But this doesn’t happen very often, and over time, it happens less and less. I’m not a journalist–I don’t have time to research even my most heart felt opinions to the degree I feel comfortable shooting off my mouth about them. This might change. I’m a passionate person whose equally passionate about my views. But for now, I need to spend my time on the things that benefit myself and my family the most. It ain’t politics, folks.

This isn’t meant to be a judgement of my friends and colleagues who do post about political and other somewhat controversial matters. What one does with one’s Internet space is up to them and I’m free to follow or friend accordingly. Some people just have stronger stomachs than I do, or are adequately informed and worthy of my attention. Many are not. What’s that they say? Don’t be that gal.

Don’t be just another asshole on the Internet.

I’m curious to hear what you think about this subject. Hit me with some comments, people.

Holly West

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