Dear Social Media: I Hate Politics
I hate politics. Politics is like your underwear -- I know you have them on, but I really don’t want to see them. This time of the election cycle, and with the advent of social media, politics and political messaging has become close to unbearable.
I know the Internet has morphed into a social animal over the last few years, and Facebook is one of the best and worst inventions of my lifetime. I don’t put it up in the pantheon of developments with the microwave oven, the ATM machine, the cell phone, or even the Internet itself, but it’s pretty darn useful. I get to see and hear from people whom I’ve known for many years. I get to stay in touch with loads of people that otherwise may have fallen out of touch. All that being said, I wish they would keep their politics to themselves.
Political advertising is bad enough without Facebook friends having to weigh in and create more viral antagonism. The negative advertising I see on television coming from all sides has achieved new heights, and with it my opinion of politicians has sunk to new lows. We live in a media-driven culture and unfortunately ratings and circulation are associated with the extreme right and extreme left, and the sanity of the middle is left out in the cold. Those of us who sit in the middle of the political spectrum, who are cursed with the ability to recognize both sides of the argument and who recognize the flaws as well as the promise of both sides, become disillusioned with the debate in general.
Our government is run by egotistical, self-centered children who fail to recognize the wonderfully rich history of the nation and the promise of a future that we want to leave to our children in favor of their own infamy and power. I’m somewhat surprised that I have yet to see someone on the floor of Congress kicking, screaming, and throwing their hands in the air when they don’t get their way -- the same way my three-year old does when he misses his afternoon nap, plays outside all day and it’s 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. It’s probably only a matter of time.
On Facebook I would hope to see more mild-mannered, intelligently driven debate about the issues and fewer personal attacks against the key figures by people I know and respect. Unfortunately I see more of the same extremist points of view and less of a desire to understand both sides of the issues. I see people posting funny pics (yes, some of them are actually quite funny) and political gaffes (yes, some of these are simply frustrating and embarrassing), but rarely do I witness intelligent forwarding of the issues that matter most. I have yet to make up my mind regarding all of the issues at hand, but my motivation is to ensure a strong future more so than ensure that “my team wins.” I honestly hear more intelligent debate regarding NFL issues from sports talk radio on my commutes back and forth than I do from any political discussion through the media.
The Internet is an amazing thing, and the people in my life are amazing people. I would not trade any of them, and I would not trade on any of my life experiences to be a different person. I do however wish to see, in my lifetime, a political race and subsequent media coverage driven by topics such as the economy, health coverage, personal rights and substantive foreign policy rather than who stood under the wrong sign at a convention, who paid for an outrageous haircut, or who misspelled something basic in a letter to the editor in college. I wish to show my sons that our political process is one based on truth and intelligent debate rather than name-calling and personal attacks. I wish to show my sons that media can actually be unbiased, truthful and fair to all sides.
This election season we have two worthy presidential candidates. One has one point of view and the other has a different point of view. One comes from business and one comes from politics. They both have their faults, but I hope they both will be mature enough to surround themselves only with the kinds of people who reflect a mature way of tackling a serious topic like running the most amazing country on the planet. If not them, then maybe the next time around?
I know it’s not a marketing topic, per se, but as a marketer I do honestly feel that a mature, ethical, honest point of view based on personal integrity is the right way to promote your message. I’m sure you would agree.