An Open Letter To Your Parents Re: Facebook Etiquette

Senior Contributor
09.28.12 4 Comments

Hi there! Your children have no doubt sat you down in front of the computer and asked you to read this. First of all, I’d like to thank you for your time.

Secondly, I know it’s an election year. Passions always run high. But we need to talk about your behavior, because, well, none of you know how to use Facebook and it is driving your children insane. Here’s what you’re doing, probably without realizing it.

Picking Endless Stupid Fights With Other People Your Age Over Politics

Let’s start with the most basic lesson here: You cannot win a fight on the Internet.

Seriously, you can’t. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got all your factual ducks in a row; there’s a cognitive bias called the backfire effect that essentially means if you demonstrate to somebody that their beliefs are wrong, they will reject the evidence of the obvious and cling to their beliefs more strongly. So really all you’re doing is convincing other people that they’re right by screaming at them.

Your children realized this after a brief flirtation with a fringe Presidential candidate in college. They had an excuse then, you don’t.

You’re Not Allowed To Yell At People For Something You Don’t Like On Their Wall

Imagine this: You’re having a pleasant open house, and then somebody charges in with your garbage, dumps it on your floor, screams how awful your housekeeping is at the top of their lungs and sprints away.

By yelling at somebody on their political post, on their Facebook? That’s pretty much exactly what you’re doing. It’s one thing if somebody directly picks a fight with you on your Wall, but on somebody else’s… well, see above about “not convincing somebody that they’re wrong.”

Finally, And Most Important, If You’re Full Of Crap You Will Be Called On It

Nobody likes being embarrassed in public, and by picking a political fight, that’s pretty much what you’re setting yourself up for.

There’s no such thing as a “fact” in politics, just different ways of spinning things. The problem is really that most people will just pull factoids out of thin air, or from TV, and cite it like gospel when it’s probably a bit thin. A quick trip to Google and generally, the truth will out.

In other words, feel free to have political opinions. Just please stop asking the rest of us to agree with them.

Around The Web