Dear Answer Lady,
I need help. I grew up in Idaho, a pretty, if somewhat backwards, state. Recently, an acquaintance from high school posted this on Facebook [sic throughout]: “Isnt this great? Americans have put a socialist into the White House – a socialist who wants to indoctrinate our youth with his socialist agenda. Hitler was able to spread his ideas by appealing to German youngsters. Dont let obama get a hold of our children. Socialism always fails.”
This is why I can barely stand to look at Facebook.
But my real question is: Do I respond? And if so, how? My instinct is to stay out of it, because any response of mine will probably elicit a dozen angry responses from her right-wing cronies. I do think, though, that letting angry, uninformed attacks like this go unanswered is a problem. I cringe at my computer, and then do nothing. But is it possible to have a reasoned, thoughtful discussion about this? Without making her angry and without making me sound like the smug, condescending east coast liberal I have become?
Two separate issues here. #1: Facebook. FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACEBOOOK. Of all the near-inescapable modern conveniences that simultaneously make our lives better and worse but mostly worse, Facebook is king. It’s like how your DVR dutifully records every episode of Anthony Bourdain’s increasingly meh Travel Channel show but inexplicably refuses to record Mad Men, multiplied by spending a day feeling sad about something you found out by Tumblr-searching your name, ALL THE TIME. You think all the time about deleting yourself from it. You even know people who have done so! And you respect them for it, but it troubles you that you now have no handy way of remembering their birthdays.
Also there’s something about “deleting yourself” that’s just … well. “Deleting yourself.” It doesn’t sound cheery.
But then something like this happens and deletion starts looking better and better. If only you could delete some other people while you’re at it! Some kind of kamikaze app.
Seriously though I think how you respond to this is: it’s not enough to just hide her like you do the people who take quizzes or update you on how many novel-words they wrote that day. You probably have to de-friend this person, and you have to tell her why. Passively maintaining your acquaintance/not rocking the boat is making you feel guilty for a reason, and the reason is not that you’re a perpetually-guilty East Coast liberal snob. It’s that you’re a good, right-thinking human being with a shred of conscience and common sense and soul, and anyone who a) calls Obama a socialist (I wish!) and b) says “socialist” like it’s a bad thing is just not.
Your message goes, “Dear Tater Ann, I wanted to let you know that your status update offended me for reasons x, y and z, and it probably also offended a lot of other people who feel that you’re too much of a lost cause to bother confronting you about this. I don’t, which is why I’m sending you this message. But if you respond to this message with anything less than courtesy and willingness to accept that you might sometimes be in the wrong, I’ll start. Your friend, Teachable Moment.”
But nicer, I guess. Sorry, I am bad at “nicer.”
Previously: Teen Email Disaster!