Things to remember when engaging in political discourse on Facebook.

If you are a person alive in 2017, you have a social media presence. Probably Facebook, if nothing else. Here’s how to Facebook responsibly:

  1. Clear out the clutter.
    We all know we have friends on Facebook just because. Maybe you had a chance encounter for thirty seconds your first day of college orientation. Maybe you had to friend an old coworker to ask them if they would cover your shift three years ago. These people don’t know you, they add nothing to your life. Unfriend them. This will help you both as now you don’t have to see the Islamophobic Facebook statuses of a boy your sister had a crush on in high school and they’re spared from your vicious, vicious clapback.
  2. Pick your battles.
    To anyone who actually knows me or is my friend on Facebook, this may seem like a hypocritical statement. Oh, if only you knew how many battles I’m not picking.
    There are some easy indicators of battles to stay away from:

    • If you have Facebook friends who you don’t really care about but can’t unfriend because of some reason or another (family, work, school), don’t bother. Unfollow them so you don’t have to lay witness to their problematic statuses. Your ignorance will protect you and you can continue to like them.
    • If there’s already debate happening in the comments, just back away. Obviously, lend your support if you feel like there’s unwarranted attack or something, but you can just like a comment and keep scrolling. Someone’s already saying something, you don’t need to repeat it.
    • If a person is hopeless, don’t waste your time. You’ve argued with this person before, they either don’t get what you’re saying or are too stubborn to understand. It’s not worth it. Unfriend them. Or resign yourself to their stupidity and scroll through their feed when you need to build up a good rage.
  3. Remain objective.
    Now, this applies to any argument, but it’s especially difficult in text communication to remember. If you have to say something, if you have to comment or put in your input (no judgement, I understand the impulse) it’s important to remember that you are not attacking the person, you are attacking their argument. I am not arguing with you, a person, I am arguing with this status or meme you posted. I do not care if you are a mother or served in the military or have a black friend, I care about what you’re saying. I do not care if you are my Aunt or my sister’s boss or my mother’s childhood friend, I care about how you’re speaking to me. Furthermore: I don’t need disclaimers. Yes, I know you still love me, but I’m going to respond to this diatribe condemning millennials. Yes, I know you still love me, but climate change is real and I’m not going to let you pretend it isn’t.
    It’s not disrespectful to ignore your tragic backstory if you’re trying to use your tragic backstory as a defense for your argument. I don’t want that defense, I want an actual defense. If I’m taking the courtesy to divorce myself and my personal stake in this debate, you should do the same.
    And I know, in ever class we’ve ever taken about persuasive writing, we’re told that pathos is how you sway an audience. But in my experience, giving a sob story only opens up a door for the other side to claim you’re biased and undercut your entire thesis. I have been dismissed in arguments because I was the ‘middle child.’ I have been dismissed in arguments because ‘you just want to vote for a woman because she’s a woman.’ So, no, I don’t exist in an argument. I’m just a mouthpiece. Attack my words, because there is not a person here.
  4. Leave the mess where it is.
    Facebook does not exist in a vacuum, it’s true: you actually have to see these people in real life, eventually. Leave the Facebook arguments on Facebook. It’s possible to be a fully functioning human being and have conversations outside of whatever drama got you heated. This doesn’t make you fake or two-faced, it makes you an adult. This doesn’t mean you’re going back on your beliefs or taking back anything you may have said, it means you know how to conduct yourself in society. Off of Facebook, I am a person. There is a personality behind the mouthpiece and this person knows how to artfully dodge uncomfortable topics when the time doesn’t call for it. There’s a time and place, your mother’s birthday party is not that.

Basically, don’t be a bully. Remember that your arguments are not you and if you’re being called out, examine why that might be. And don’t get mad when people call you out: you’re the one who posted something controversial, do not be shocked when there’s controversy.

And maybe step back from Facebook if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You’re responsible for yourself first.

-JM

(Disclaimer that these views and opinions are strictly the views and opinions of Jessie Maggio. Jessie Brokenshire barely uses Facebook. She’s smarter than me.)

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The Consistency of Self Worth

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this account, mostly due to the hectic nature of my life as a senior in college. However, I’m on break right now and in light of some recent events I want to discuss individual self-worth and how the opinions of others do not fluctuate that self worth.

As a human, we all naturally have self-worth. We are taught both consciously and subconsciously from a young age that appearance has a lot to do with measuring this worth. Whether people find you attractive, whether you fit into the right clothes, whether you fit a certain stereotype. Although physical attributes are often evaluated, these evaluations have no impact on your actual self worth. For example, one person may find me attractive while another may not. Neither of those things makes me better or worse, because they don’t fluctuate your worth.

A person has self-worth whether they have “desirable” characteristics or not, being physical or inner. What someone thinks of you has no bearing on your actual worth. What you look like outwardly has no bearing on your worth. We are taught that skinny is good, and that pretty is good, and that long hair is good, and that following gender norms is good. But if you don’t do those things or aren’t those things it doesn’t make your worth as an individual go down. Not being conventionally attractive or not being “skinny enough” *insert eye roll here* does not make you worth less.

It is important to challenge these thoughts that are taught to us and consciously make an effort to judge the worth of a person less on appearances and more on characteristics that go beyond that. It’s unfortunately natural for us, even me, to immediately judge the worth of a person based on their looks. Pretty people get hired first, skinny people get complimented first, it’s the nature of our society today. However, those things don’t have any actual bearing. Looks fade and weight fluctuates, styles will change a million times in the next ten years. When you base your worth on your outward appearance you are bound to be disappointed because of the constant changing of beauty standards. That’s why it is important to begin evaluating people from a deeper level than what is on the surface. This includes yourself. Don’t let your physical appearance be your only way of feeling good. Don’t go the rest of your life hating what you look like or feeling less than because you don’t exactly fit the perfect stereotype of beautiful.

Active ways to challenge this need to happen within yourself, but also outwardly. Start complimenting people on characteristics other than physical one’s. Do the same with yourself. It’s easy to equate a bad grade with a lack of self-worth, or someone calling you a “potato” with being worth less than someone who is traditionally beautiful. Make yourself aware that those factors have absolutely no impact on your worth, because it is constant and non-fluctuating. Make yourself aware of your accomplishments and achievements, and let those be your anchors to reality. It is more than easy to get swept up in appearance or someone else’s interpretation of you, but practice believing in the inflexibility of self-worth and it will go a long way.

It’s perfectly ok to take pride in your outward appearance, I highly encourage that. Just not when it is the only factor being taken into account. Your beauty is not the absence of mine, just as my beauty is not the absence of your own. There are more ways than one to represent beauty, and there are more factors to self-worth than anything physical. Take the time to evaluate where your judgments come from and take time to be actively aware of the consistency of your own self worth.

-JB