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.

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22 comments about "Dear Social Media: I Hate Politics".
  1. Steve Ellwanger from Press Counsel Group , September 5, 2012 at 10:59 a.m.
    Well stated (from another guy in the middle of the political spectrum).
  2. Zachary Cochran from CPXi , September 5, 2012 at 11:01 a.m.
    Can I hear an Amen?
  3. Kenneth Rohman from archer>malmo , September 5, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.
    amen! it's about time somebody at mediapost became a journalist and not an activist. thanks for the even-handed and honest review of the facts. and for the record, i concur with your assessment whole heartedly!
  4. Tom Francoeur from Communispace , September 5, 2012 at 11:05 a.m.
    Hi Cory - Well said. I totally agree with you. I'm not from the middle, but I'm tired of the extremism and ranting from both sides. But I still think Facebook can be a good place to share political views in a positive light. And to express opinions that are respectful of other views. Overall, I avoid overtly political posts on my Facebook page for many of the reasons you cited and also due to my profession in PR. But when I do share a political viewpoint, I work hard too respect the fact that not everyone will agree with me, and with that approach, I've avoided the "Facebook Flamewars" I've seen all too often.
  5. Corey Kronengold from CKPR , September 5, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.
    CT -- Great post. And as someone who posts a lot of political content, I thought I'd weigh in. I think the broader issue you shed light on is how nascent social media is. With all of the contextual technology available to us, it should be easy enough for FB to allow a user to filter out the political rhetoric. The same way they should be able to filter out Yankees vs Red Sox threads or (gasp!) why my favorite band can beat up your favorite band. There are joke apps that replace pics of babies with pics of cats b/c people are equally as tired of the baby pics as they are of politics. But social media's biggest flaw right now is its inability to filter the signal from the noise. You have to take the good with the bad....at least for now.
  6. Ron Stitt from Fox Television Stations , September 5, 2012 at 11:47 a.m.
    Amen! And ditto what Tom said. The only thing I'll add is that Cory, you seem a little conflicted...stay away from politics in social media, or elevate the discourse? I hope we can elevate the discourse, because if the tendency is to leave politics to the politicians and rabid partisans, it's not a recipe for a healthy democratic process.
  7. Brian Locicero from Kantar Operations , September 5, 2012 at 11:47 a.m.
    Thanks Cory! I have been in perpetual draft stage of a similar note that I was going to just issue to all of my Facebook friends. I too, am in the middle (politically and amongst my friends). I've liked and shared your post along with my own commentary to my friends on FB but I couldn't have put this any more clearly than you have. Cheers!!
  8. Joe Mandese from MediaPost , September 5, 2012 at 12:03 p.m.
    Cory, Good column, and a very legitimate point of view. Personally, I think the role of media in a democratic society is to keep people informed and open-minded about the issues -- and yes, even the candidates -- involved in it. I think social media, for better or worse, is an extension of that. But you know, people can always do what they do with professional media they don't agree with, find irrelevant, or simply irritating: Tune it out. But I'd rather have the noise of a lively exchange of open ideas about the issues and the candidates involved, than the other way around: Big media and big political dollars controlling the conversation. JMHO Joe
  9. Brian Richardson from ExactTarget , September 5, 2012 at 1:40 p.m.
    AMEN! I recently took a trip to Australia, and I was surprised A.) How well versed Australians were on US politics and B.) How enjoyable the conversations were. We can't talk about politics b/c people can't separate logic and issues from pure emotion. It is too bad, b/c there is important information that needs to be shared.
  10. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , September 5, 2012 at 2:14 p.m.
    People go to parties to feel comfortable, not confronted. So long ago, we all agreed that it was rude to talk religion, politics, or sex at a party of friends or fmaily. Nowadays people go on Facebook to feel comfortable, not confronted. Shouldn't the same rules apply? If you want to have a voice, use Twitter, where followers are not necessarily friends. Leave your friends and family alone on Facebook and find a more suitable venue for your political beliefs.
  11. Steve Schildwachter from rVue , September 5, 2012 at 3:29 p.m.
    Absolutely agree with your points and (especially) your sentiment.
  12. Steve Climons from Crossover Marketing & Advertising , September 5, 2012 at 5:28 p.m.
    Cory- the way I look at it is political parties are for better or worse brands that you either identify with or not. How you socially recognize that is your business but you can't get away from it living in this country.
  13. Cece Forrester from tbd , September 5, 2012 at 5:49 p.m.
    "I’m sure you would agree." Those five words sum up why well-meaning people end up insulting each other in social media by making snarky political jokes. Because many have come to view the opposition as motivated by evil intent rather than just having an honestly different opinion about how to solve the country's problems, they can't imagine that everyone they know doesn't completely agree with their viewpoint. If the others have had the good grace to be more careful, such restraint is lost on the commenters. I don't know whether the answer is to remove the discussion or to remember this principle when posting. But it is true, there are places people go to on purpose to have such discussions and will not take them personally.
  14. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , September 5, 2012 at 6:25 p.m.
    I would start with people being able to write in complete sentences with proper grammar and spelling. Comprehending what someone is trying to express becomes impossible with no more than cursing and flinging insults. But then again, maybe we would all benefit in so many ways when we demand such in all topics.
  15. Jerry Johnson from Brodeur Partners , September 6, 2012 at 8:56 a.m.
    There are actually a lot of good people working in government. And snarky, childish commentary isn't exclusive to politics. Just read any online comment thread (including this one!) or spend a day at the office. If we want to change politics the answer is to get active. If we treat it like underwear then that's exactly what we'll get.
  16. Nic Denyer from the aranda group , September 6, 2012 at 5:31 p.m.
    Just an interesting note, our Congresswoman has regularly deleted posts on her official facebook page that disagree with her ideas/point of view. The web-site is run by a state official, thus as one person put it - I am paying for people to shut me up!! "Only people who are willing to listen can debate.."
  17. Myron Rosmarin from Rosmarin Search Marketing, Inc. , September 6, 2012 at 6:38 p.m.
    The problem isn't that people discuss politics. The problem is *the tone* with which it's discussed. When the tone is respectful of the other side, it can be very productive. But if one side uses insulting, dismissive or misleading rhetoric, well that's just a recipe for all kinds of problems. The only good that comes of that is the revelation of a person's true character.
  18. Jan Rodak from ReThink the Pink , September 6, 2012 at 7:46 p.m.
    Oh, okay. I'll wade through photos of pasta dishes, babies, cats, YouTube songs, reports on why someone is leaving for the day, lamenting over a failed relationship .. but god forbid I discuss policy issues.
  19. Zachary Cochran from CPXi , September 7, 2012 at 10:17 a.m.
    Common wisdom is "don't discuss religion and politics at the dinner table." It can spoil your dinner. But social media is not dinner, so I think whether or not you post about politics depends on how you use social media. A lot of people don't want to be bombarded with your POLITICAL RANTS and if that's what you're doing, it's easy for people to unfriend you. I generally prefer not to encounter politics when I'm on Facebook--I'd rather discuss them over a beer with my friends.
  20. Nic Denyer from the aranda group , September 7, 2012 at 10:25 a.m.
    Sorry to disagree Zach but dinner is the original social media. No one should lose sight of the need to communicate face to face...
  21. Zachary Cochran from CPXi , September 7, 2012 at 10:49 a.m.
    Nic -- agreed, I'd rather discuss politics in person. Just not while I'm enjoying food.
  22. Jan Rodak from ReThink the Pink , September 7, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.
    This is almost comical. Now you're telling people how to "use" social media? Really? Here's a hint: There is a FB feature allowing you to HIDE content from someone you don't wish to see. Use it.