I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone complain about the political rants that run rampant on social media. Each time I hear that same complaint, the little section of my heart that still believes in the American spirit breaks a little. Why is it so bad that your third cousin cares about the health care system? Why must you moan and whine because that one guy you knew in the third grade posted about his constitutional right to bear arms? Why do you want to block your grandmother for sharing a meme that affirms her position on Prop 8?
Here’s what I have to say to each and every one of you who complain about the political posts on social media: Quit it. Stop complaining. Yes, I know, I’m complaining that you’re complaining about other people complaining on social media. I assure you that I do see the irony.
I absolutely love political posts on Facebook. I love political posts on Twitter. I love political discussions anywhere I can get them. I’m not some kind of lunatic who loves talking politics, either. OK, maybe a little bit. But I don’t love political discussion because I love to argue; I love political discussions because I like knowing that people still care.
If George Washington had a Facebook profile, do you think he would have spent his days posting pictures of LOLCats? I don’t think so. If Abraham Lincoln had a Twitter account, do you think he would spend his days tweeting about what he had for breakfast? I doubt it.
Think about all of the time you spend on social media, and think about how much of what you post is useless. Now, try not to cry as you think about it. On the other hand, your Uncle Billy, who annoyed you with his last post about the NSA, may have sparked curiosity in someone’s mind. Maybe that curiosity creates a great future leader. We can thank Uncle Billy for that.
Don’t get me wrong, I hate Internet trolls as much as the next guy. You know, the ones who spend all day behind their computer screens finding ways to start anonymous Internet battles with some stranger? Sure, the trolls often use political posts as an excuse to be rude, offensive, racist and so forth. Nobody likes them, and I’m no exception. But there are some people out there who are really trying to change the world.
Social media is a vast-reaching, enormously effective way to spread information. Maybe your post about overcrowding prisons won’t change the way people view our justice system. Maybe it won’t make any difference when you post about your concerns with our education system. Who knows? But we can be certain that nobody’s life will change from seeing the dozen pictures of your cat sleeping, no matter how cute he is.