I really don't have time for this, so I'll make it short. (Just so you know, I've learned the hard way that if inspiration crawls in your lap, you'd better give it a cuddle before it reverts to its old aloof self and reconvenes on its duty to shred your curtains. And, yes, I live with cats.)
I'm on spring break which means I'm cleaning the house as if I were expecting an international delegation. After this week, I'll have only one and a half months to get caught up on grading and finish teaching classes in addition to observing tutors and pre-tutors in the Writing Center. Not a lot of time in the scheme of things, so the house must finally, irrevocably, be in order. I've been rewarding myself for getting things done by peeking at Facebook now and then.
The other night I checked out an exchange between two mutual friends, part of a group that hangs out together, as in face-to-face, fairly frequently. There's a reason: we share the same values, political stance, and profession. We're the loathsome liberals everyone should fear, so naturally, we get along well. Somewhere near the end of the conversation I was following between these two friends, someone I don't know posted a statement I all too immediately recognized as Tea Party drivel, part of their tactics to ensure their voice is heard over all others so that it seems they represent the majority (Look it up on Wikipedia.com, if you don't believe me, or go to one of their sites, if you don't believe Wikipedia. They openly admit it.)
-->Begin slight digression. I get a bit irritated by people who hijack my Facebook wall, no matter the reason. I've had people plan get-togethers I couldn't attend on my wall: "Uh, hello, ever heard of wall-to-wall or e-mail? Because if I can't come, I probably don't want to hear about the fun y'all are going to have without me." I've had friends who fundamentally agree get into arguments over miniscule semantic problems: "Please stop, you're making me sad." I've had others take the topic of conversation into wholly other universes without so much as employing the old Monty Python segue, "And now for something completely different..." with a vaudevillian swing of the elbows from side-to-side. In these cases, I want to ask, "How about posting that on your own status updates? Because you do have your own, you know that, right?"<--End slight digression. But this situation seemed like a hijacking of much more momentous proportions to me, so I commented, "This is what the 'hide,' 'unfriend,' and 'block' features on Facebook are all about." Oh, and I might have said something about censorship being the right of the person who has to read a bunch of crap they don't agree with. (Okay, I was acting a bit of a provocateur myself. I know, you're thinking, "What, Sans? No. Never.") Anyhoo, the Tea Partier then tried to provoke me with some statement along the lines of "You're going to shut me down just because I say something you disagree with instead of engaging me in public debate." Well, he isn't my friend, so I couldn't shut him down. I could, however, ignore him, which is what I did, turning off my computer and turning in for the night. I woke the next day thinking about what had transpired and why this hijack perturbed me more than others I had witnessed (besides the fact the perpetrator was obviously a Tea Party troll).
Not to confuse metaphors, but my Facebook wall is my party--as in a social gathering at my house--not as in a political affiliation. I may have invited you to it; more likely you invited yourself (because I don't often friend people), and I agreed to let you attend. That does not give you the right to get shit-faced drunk, become obnoxious, spill your drink all over my antique furniture (in the form of your political invective), and insult my other friends. If you do that, guess what? I'll ask you to leave because my party is NOT your public forum.
As a matter of fact, I find this whole idea of "just engaging in public debate" disingenuous. When people say that what they really mean is "Here, come closer so I can beat you over the head with my opinion, which I stupidly believe will end in your total agreement with everything I say because my rhetorical prowess is just that good." Uh, no, actually, it isn't. And, besides, we all know I'll agree with you when pigs sprout wings and start offering private international flights at incredibly reduced rates.
The only way this is really going to end is with the cops being called. So why bother going there? If you disagree with something someone says at my, or anyone else's party, why not try to be polite to your host and avoid getting embroiled in a pointless argument that's just going to spoil the mood and break the party up?
If you want to "engage in public debate" either run for office or have a party at your house, on your wall, and I promise I won't attend.
BTW, all comments are moderated because it's my party and I'll moderate it if I want to.
Photo courtesy GarryKnight via Flickr