More and more people are talking about the 2020 election during therapy. From anxiety and fear to hopelessness and rage, people are scared…and tired. With just over 30 days until election day and the first presidential debate scheduled for tomorrow (September 28), the cumulative stress is starting to weigh us down. We’ve been dealing with this anxiety for almost six years (if you consider the lead-up into 2016) and, while many are cautiously optimistic for a change in 2021, the division and rancor that has taken hold of our society is like here for quite some time.
We've all done it. I do it and then my friends text me and say, "Why on earth do you do that?" Sometimes, after I do it, I go back and try and get rid of all the evidence of what transpired. Then, after we've convinced ourselves it's over, there's that nagging reality that what we did is still out there. Somewhere.
Facebook conversations...fights, actually.
It happens the same way each time: a friend posts something on his or her wall that is politically or socially charged, we post a comment in support of (or in opposition to) the posted item, another person post a comment contrary to our viewpoint and then the conversation fight begins. The winner is usually the one who either has the most "likes" on his or her comments or is the one who gives the ultimate "I choose not to engage with you on this level" blow. The problem is, we already engaged, our opponent doesn't consider us the victor and the original poster (whose post we hijacked) is left wondering why he or she said or shared that in the first place.
My Facebook conversation fights (FCFs for short) usually happen with people who treat our President like Santa Claus (electing to consider him "not real") or people who deny climate change or "aren't homophobic, but...." FCF rarely happen with people we are actually friends with - unless one is in the habit of keeping cyber company with people they generally don't get along with. (Facebook community pages are another major source of FCFs but I don't have time to go there.) So after a recent FCF with a friend of a friend about how Obama "isn't [her] president," I woke up the next morning wondering why I - why any of us - do this?
I know there are published articles and studies about social media, narcissism, conflict and peer engagement - I'll leave those to whoever wants to find them. What I realized is that by hiding behind Facebook we can always claim ourselves the winner or the one who takes the higher ground. We can stop the conversation without regard to the other person's thoughts or words. We can go back and erase our comments leaving an odd-looking "why is this woman arguing with herself" stream of comments. But we don't win. We can't win.
When we engage in a FCF we are arguing with the proverbial brick wall. So maybe instead of arguing from with the wall, we should step away and find a real face...or a book.
My thoughts and reactions to the world in which we live...completely biased and unfiltered.