Guidelines for Discussing Politics on Facebook

Okay, I’m feeling it. I can no longer count on Facebook to feed me pictures of my friends’ cute kids, kitten videos and pictures of the last thing everyone ate. My friends’ are asking for civility when it comes to political posts. I want it, too.

If you judge me by my Twitter usage, you know that I’m no social media guru, but I am a copywriter. I manipulate words for a living so that they convey just the right sentiment. So, I’ve laid out some ground rules for discussing politics on Facebook. I’m not the first person to do this, but my guidelines are geared to create meaningful conversation via the social media platform, not eliminate political discussion altogether. I have family and friends across the country and, well, social media can make communicating easier. Here are my rules:

  1. Question. Before posting about issues, ask if it’s true (research sources!), respectful and for ultimate good.
  2. Explain. If you post an article, explain why you are sharing it. How does it relate to you or your family and friends? I don’t need you to share every single Washington Post article, I can go to their site on my own.
  3. Reach out. Ask your friends how they are or are not affected by an issue you are concerned about.
  4. Comment. Stay engaged with your friends’ concerns. Kindly, respectfully share your experience and other resources. DON’T play devil’s advocate. Long ago that was dismissed as simply “playing a jerk.” Be genuine and sincere and concerned.
  5. Listen. Kindly and respectfully listen (well, read) about your friends’ experiences and consider them. How do these experiences affect your understanding of an issue?
  6. Do not share sensational memes. These are quotes, gifs, facts, factoids and any alternatives of these that fit into the standardized image size and are rarely attributed to a source. They are obviously created to rack up as many “likes” as possible. Remember, we are on social media where “likes” are more important that accuracy, kindness or good.
  7. Do not clog your friends’ feeds. Sure, you may have a lot of concerns (who doesn’t?), but less can be more impactful if it’s thoughtful, personal and relevant. Remember, too, that if you simply “like” or comment on a post, that post may pop up in your friends’ feeds. (I stopped giving the thumbs up on a bunch of little things because of this.)
  8. Get off social media. This is a problem for me. But, I have recently signed up for my senators’ and congressman’s e-newsletters. I’m trying to visit reputable newspaper websites for my news. In general, I’m attempting to spend less time with my phone in my hand and doing things that I truly enjoy—reading books, crafting.
  9. When in doubt, tell us about your day. Pictures of really, really good dinners used to be annoying. Now, I would love to see what you are eating! Shoot, I’d even take a humble brag now and then! I’m on Facebook, because I want to keep in touch with YOU.
  10. The personal is political. Remember, we’re all in this together and every action (at every level) has a real effect on real people.

Tell me, what did I miss? And, will you join me?

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