Some of my Facebook friends, who are also my flesh-and-blood friends and relatives, shared their thoughts on the topic. They will speak first.
“At least the people posting online are paying attention — I like to read opposing views, as well as (a) healthy accounting of my own views by someone who can express them better than I,” wrote Jocelyn Steele of Virginia, my friend of more than 20 years. For Steele, posting her own political commentary, including links to partisan and non-partisan websites and political cartoons, and reading responses to her posts and the posts of others, is educational as well as a form of advocacy for causes she deems important.
My sister, Stephanie Clouse of New Jersey, contributed: “It just may cause you a couple of friendships or damage a few relationships. It really matters how passionate you are … Political conversations can take place without becoming rude or disrespectful. What we see more than anything today is, ‘If you don’t support the same candidate as I do, then you are stupid, naive and are being duped.’ Of course, one would hope that friendships are strong enough to endure a little bit of heavy debating.”
For my sister, Facebook serves as a forum for vigorous debate that runs the risk of damaging relationships, and users must be prepared to take some hits if they make strident postings.
“I may post my views in hope of MAYBE swaying others, but whatever their views, I will not allow a political view (to) affect friendships, and no bad feelings to anyone. I like the challenge of responding to other views also!” shared another friend of more than 10 years from New Jersey. She sees Facebook as a political discourse forum as well, but said she is unwilling to risk damaging relationships.