The Inevitable Follow Up Post

by Ginger on September 3, 2012

in Blogging & Social Media, Day in the Life

Wow.

I don’t even know how to explain what the last few days have been like here. I wish I could share with all of you how amazing, and terrifying, and gratifying (and terrifying)  it has been to watch my last post get shared far and wide. It has been a singularly unique experience, one that I don’t know that there’s any way to prepare for, but one that has (mostly) been the best experience of my blogging “career.”  And there’s no real good way to follow it up, nothing that will match it or live up to any expectations I or anyone else have, so instead of trying I’m  just going to talk a little bit about what it’s been like.

When I wrote my plea out, it was born out of frustration and sadness for the things I’ve seen in my own social media circles, mostly on Facebook. Not about the differences of opinion, or about the sharing of information, or even, despite what some people may assume, most of the jokes shared. Instead, it was about the ugly side of things, the point where it wasn’t talking policy and issues and candidates anymore, but instead was just name calling and vitriol.

It was something I’ve been pondering for a few weeks, spurred by one specific graphic that was shared by one specific person–the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. And so I did what I normally do, I sat down at my computer and wrote out the frustration I’ve been feeling. For those of you who are new here, that’s pretty much how I work through the things that are bothering me, with a brain dump at the computer. I did it on my lunch break, hit publish, and went back to work, never expecting more than the handful of my loyal readers to ever see it, but knowing I already felt better for getting it off my chest.

So much for not many people reading it.

Something in those words has clearly hit a nerve among a lot of people. People who are tired of so much anger and hatred. It has been those people who have overwhelmed me with their support–with comments and emails and tweets and blog posts that say “me too” and “thank you” and “I’m glad I’m not the only one.” It has shown me that there are so many people who want a different level of discourse–not one of putting your head in the sand and ignoring what is happening, but one where there is ACTUALLY discourse, instead of name calling.

I’ll be honest, I was petrified to post anything vaguely related to politics–even when I thought only a couple of hundred people AT BEST would read it, I knew there was the possibility of pissing people off.

Well, WAY more than a couple hundred people have seen it now, and with so many views, it was inevitable that there would be people who are upset by my post. There have been a couple who have offered polite, well reasoned counterpoints to my plea–and while I hold firm to my point, I appreciate greatly the civility they showed in their discussions. There have been a slightly depressing number of people who have missed the point entirely.  And there have, of course, been a few that have gone to name calling, arguing with other commenters, and the exact angry rhetoric I’m talking about. It makes me a little nauseated every time I read one of those comments, but it is not entirely unexpected.

As an aside:

For the most part, I’m going to ignore the more absurd and personal of the arguments leveled at me, but there is one that I do need to address, just to make it crystal clear. I realize this is mostly for my sake, as the people who need to read this will probably never end up here again, but I want it on the record:

In no way, shape or form do I take this election, nor the issues that are at stake, lightly. And my point was never about staying uninformed, ignoring information, or keeping your mouth shut on learning about or teaching about those issues for the sake of “being nice.

However, I believe VERY strongly that the chances that you’re going to teach someone, or change someone’s mind, or convince them of your point of view when you are insulting them and throwing out barbs about their stupidity (at best, we all know the worst can get so much worse) is close to zero. I’m only calling for a return to some semblance of civility when talking about our fellow citizens in an effort to elevate the dialogue to something that actually resembles dialogue instead of monkeys flinging poo at each other.

End aside.

Luckily, for every negative comment, there have been 10 amazingly positive ones. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is, in this big huge way, to be able to say “I’m not the only one.” To feel like there are others out there, like me, who are saddened by the animosity we’re showing and being shown by people we know and love, and who would like to see that change. And for every negative comment I’ve received, I can just look to one of the hundreds of positive ones to know that so, so many of you feel the same as I do, that I’m not crazy, and that there can be civility and kindness in the midst of political discussion and debate.

Yes, this is important. Yes, there are very real consequences at stake. And yes, we need to educate ourselves, advocate for our positions, and vote.

But we don’t have to do it at the expense of our relationships.

So thank you, to all of you who have read, tweeted, shared, posted, emailed, commented. Thank you for reading my frustration, and for sharing it, and for thinking there’s a better way. Thank you for showing me that I’m not the only one. And thank you for giving this little blogger an amazing (if slightly terrifying) ride.

No tags for this post.
Amanda September 3, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Great follow-up, Ginger! It’s gratifying to hear that the overwhelming response to your last post was positive. I’m so happy that we – the folks who realize that a person is not only their political perspective – are not alone. Thank you for bringing us together!

Tammy Gallicano September 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

When I read it on facebook (a friend shared it with me)…it is exactly what I was thinking too! I get so depressed on facebook sometimes with all the anger and mean comments…and yes… feeling like its directed at ME! I shared your message with others. It was perfect! It was exactly how my husband and I were feeling!! Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!! I want to feel united …not divided!

Genie Webster September 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm

So glad I found your blog. You are a wonderful writer. I too shared what you said re: politics & social media. You might be interested in what I blogged about re: politics and the workplace. You deserve a wider audience, so count me in as a new fan!

Dori September 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm

As one of the multitude that shared your previous post…thank you for what you said. It needed to be said. And your follow-up was just as well written. Stand firm!

Annie September 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Thank you again for your wonderful post (and its followup). This needed to be said. I posted it on my own page, and had a similar experience – mostly thoughtful responses from people who agreed (on both sides of the fence), and a few folks who simply missed the point altogether. Sigh.

minority September 4, 2012 at 7:50 am

Let me echo – thank you so much for your beautiful writing. I live in an area where the freedom to speak my views have been squashed by people who assume I hold the same views as them. I have sat in social situations (private and public) and kept my mouth closed. Out of fear. No one has ever been curious about why I sit silently. This is the exact oppression they are typically angry about, but yet they do it unwittingly to me and countless other silent people. I have spoken up on a few occasions but the anger directed at me is real. Thank you for giving me some words to share that explains the pain.

mimi September 7, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I also live in an area that is very partisan. I can’t understand why people send viscious, untrue e-mails without realizing not everyone thinks the way they do. What bothers me even more is often they include a website to check their e-mail & when you do you find the information isn’t even close to the truth. Just proof that some people are so eager to believe the negative they won’t fact check the information.

Annie September 4, 2012 at 7:54 am

I also wrote a blog post on Friday afternoon, after I posted your link on my Facebook page and I had some folks, sure enough, completely missed the point. I didn’t post it, thinking it was inflammatory, unnecessary, etc. But then I thought about your post, and my Facebook friends’ reactions to it all weekend, so I went back this morning and tweaked it a bit. Because I think what you said really needs to be put out there. The gulf in our country, and the need to “take sides” is creating more and more dysfunction every day. We are not getting anywhere by taking sides and then hurling insults at one another. It is frustrating and heartbreaking to watch.
http://www.dogwoodgirl.net/blog/?p=5668
Thanks again for your thoughtful words. It really did make me think. Hopefully it will do the same for others.

Alyssa S. September 4, 2012 at 9:42 am

I still continue to be infinitely glad you did post what you did. I too, shared it on FB and overwhelmingly, the response was “I totally agree” and it was shared by more than one of my friends. It made me just as sad to see the responses you got that completely missed the point. I have a friend who made the mistake of disagreeing (respectfully) what someone else said on Twitter and was horrified how many “you should just go away and die or better yet kill yourself” responses she got. It’s sad and sickening.

As the Dalai Lama says:

“If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.”

Reading (and chickens) September 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I think the bigger your audience gets, the more dissent there will be. Impossible to please everyone, so just please yourself, or something like that, right? I am still SO EXCITED for you. YAY GINGER!

Stacy September 5, 2012 at 11:12 am

I read your first post on this subject because a very dear friend of mine shared it on Facebook. I recently started unfriending the names callers in my friends list. I had in the past just removed them from my news feed, lately I decided that most of the name callers weren’t bringing enough positive stuff to my life to balance out the negativtity and hate that they brought to my days with the hateful comments and posts about things I believe in and support. I greatly appreciate the call for treating each other with civility. Thanks for taking your lunch break to type out what so many of us have thought and just not been able to say effectively.

Angel September 5, 2012 at 11:28 am

A wonderful friend shared your post after a discussion about this very same thing. I have recently posted on Facebook that the political rhetoric and party bashing is not what I want to see when I sign on. I signed on to reconnect with old friends; but like Stacy, I have unfriended several people because of their ugly comments and down right mean photos. Thank you for your eloquent statements and know that you are most definitely not crazy!

Marcia September 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Friend also sent this on my Facebook with her own plea. You put into words exactly what I was thinking. I have friend and relatives that are from one end of spectrum to other and know they believe what they believe, but do not regard rights of others to believe what they believe. Thanks for the positive spin you put out there for people like me that can’t express themselves like you did.

Great job.

Bree September 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm

A facebook friend shared your 1st blog with me and I was so impressed that
I signed up to receive your blog via my e-mail. You were able to put in words
what I’ve been struggling with for quite sometime but didn’t quite know how to get it properly into words….I thank You Ginger.

When reading my wall lately, I’ve been hiding the posts that have been so hateful, disrespectful and angry. In fact I haven’t been responding to those that post nothing else but their partyline. To date I have unfriended one person several months ago when she informed me we couldn’t be friends since we didn’t agree politically.

Looking forward to your upcoming blogs…..

Terri September 5, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I’m currently reading “THe Book Thief,” and I can’t help but parallel the conditions that breed hate. I have long held that we all want the same things in this life and that we have more in common than different. I wish we could find that place and then have polite disagreement about how we get to that place.

Karen September 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I had posted my own plea for civility on my facebook page with very few “likes” to my disappointment. It was with great joy I read your post via a Professor at Asbury University. If you haven’t already listen to Jenna Lee Nardela’s closing prayer from last night’s Democratic Convention. She is the Executive Director of Blood Water Mission, a ministry that friends Jars of Clay (my nephew used to be their bass player) began. BTW I am a registered Republican : ) Those of us who seek peace may be few but we are steadfast. Bleesings to you and yours.

Dickie Dunn September 6, 2012 at 2:59 am

Thank you for your last two blog posts. This election is painful to see the amount of divisive, spiteful, thoughtless crap that’s being regurgitated out on a daily basis. I like to discuss politics, but in a civil manner, where the discussion is thought-provoking and lacks hearing rote talking points. I like original ideas, not something that I can get from a pundit on the various networks. Unfortunately, the graphics that are being shared on Facebook (which is 90% of the problem we’re seeing in social media this year) really are making the Facebook experience eye-gougingly painful. I’ve contemplated shutting Facebook off for the next eight weeks if things don’t improve.

We can be better as Americans…we should be better as Americans…and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to get into this “either-orism” that it seems some want the American people to get into. We have a lot more in common with the other side than I think the political parties want us to admit — we go to the same churches, eat the same food, watch the same crappy TV shows (mostly), and we all put our pants on one leg at a time.

Andrew September 6, 2012 at 8:14 am

Ginger, I saw your post shared via a friend on facebook. I have never read your blog before. You seem like a genuine person with their heart in the right place. I would encourage you to continue to use the power of your blog (and it’s audience) to preach neutrality and civility. I feel you are very close to the Truth, that being that there is only one party, and America is the seat of a Global Empire that has existed for generations, through wars and calamities, etc. We are the People, we are not privy to secret knowledge and future plans. They do not respect us. They have no love for us. They do not think like us. They play on our emotional and psychological triggers that have been nurtured over time by sophisticated propaganda. The reason you feel fear is because the rabbit hole is very deep. But do not embrace the fear. God is Love, and are all One. This system is evil.

In case some missed that, I am saying that Democrats = Republicans = Population Control Mechanism

Sara September 6, 2012 at 9:07 am

I love the way you took my feelings about the nastiness that politics can be for some people and so beautifully put it into words. I respect the fact that people all have opinions and they don’t always match my own. I also am not likely to ever be able to see someone else’s opinion when they are hateful and rude when expressing that opinion. I get so frustrated at the ugliness that gets spewed around elections that I prefer to stay away from politics specifically because it seems to me that politics attracts those people that prefer nasty over civility. (Probably not a healthy response, but I’ll still admit I’m not right all the time.)

Thanks! Thanks for your eloquent candor.

Charlotte September 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

Thank you for expressing the thoughts that so many of us have! The only aspect you left out (Or haven’t been subjected to) are the attacks on one’s religious faith. “No REAL Christian can vote this way…” “If you REALLY believe in God, then you can’t agree with ___”
That has been a dominant theme on my news feed…

Jodi September 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Dear Ginger,

Your original post made my eyes well up; you expressed exactly what I’ve been feeling in such a warm and neutral way. Thanks for being strong enough to hit publish on that post (I too, fear posting about politics) and for standing firm to your ideals. Let the haters hate – you’ve got a lot of people behind you!

Dixie September 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Excellent blog and follow up.
Thank You
XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

Linda September 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Thanks so much for what you’ve written. People do tend to get out of control with stating how they feel and like you said, it could also be ME they are talking about or my friends. We are all still here after the election is over regardless of its outcome. And, we will all live with that outcome, whether it’s what we wished for or not, and have to deal with whatever comes from it. Friends we are now and friends we shall remain even if our points of view are different. Thank you, again!

shawn September 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Bless you for saying what the large majority of us are thinking ! FB was a “happy place” for me for a long time; now, not so much. I am grateful for my true friends who understand that I have my political mind made up, but am always willng to listen to others opinions. I like learning about candidates as long as it is honest and factual – not slander. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You ! Please – Keep the discussion going !!

Paul Brinkley September 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Shared far and wide, indeed. You’ve never seen me before (I bet), and probably never will again. But that aside:

Well said.

And you’re not alone.

And I have no clue what your particular politics are. And I’d be fine with knowing, but it doesn’t matter.

Virginia Nancarvis September 6, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I have struggled with this issue through out this whole year of political campaigning. I want people to like me. I do not want to offend. I do not do well when I know I have angered someone…but…I believe this may be one of the most important elections in a century. When I read complete lies and misinformation, I try to comment with facts and a link to the site. This is the wave of the future. Face book and other social networks will be how elections are ran. I have joined some political face book accounts and there are times something is posted I think is unnecessary or too harsh. I hide those. There have been face book accounts created because people are afraid to let their families, friends and neighbors know their views. I will not do that. I am not ashamed to be rooting for the poor and working class. If one wants to learn the issues and what the candidate stands for the information is “out there”. I have learned so much about how our government works in Congress..how bills are passed.. but will struggle with the desire to point out the misinformation and the hope I am not offending (most of the time).

Natalie the Singingfool September 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Thank you so much for this. I have been so hurt by people I love during this election, even setting my beliefs aside – NO ONE should have such hatred leveled at them, and it pains me to see loved ones participating in the mud-slinging. Hatred is so ugly, and this election reveals sides of people I love in ways that change how I see them, and it has been painful.
Thank you for your courage, which I seem to lack, seeing as I’m vastly outnumbered in my little circle…

Maureen Lea September 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Yes Lynn: It is simple! you are right.We can think as we please,.have an opinion.But always respect the other person’s right to have one also. A good debate is always interesting.Hope you are keeping well.Take care.

Jett September 6, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Ginger. I think you are stupendous.

Mama Echo September 7, 2012 at 12:39 am

I agree with you completely. I appreciate that you don’t want the conversations to end, you just think they should be respectful and civil. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us are thinking.

flannery o'kafka September 7, 2012 at 7:13 am

I think your previous article was brilliant. I’m off to share it. Well done.

Andrea

Margaret September 7, 2012 at 8:09 am

I can’t express to you how much I agree with your statements. Just today on Facebook I had to make this statement to two individuals who were spiraling out of control with comments to each other on my Facebook wall! I stated, “It’s okay for people to question comments or remarks [others make] for clarification. It’s okay to voice your own opinion. It’s okay to have differing views. What’s NOT okay is to use name calling, mud slinging, or belittling in your speech. Kind of takes away from or negates the point your trying to make.” Thank you very much for your blogs and your voice. 🙂

Carmen September 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

Thank you. I’m glad it has spread like wildfire. I am standing with a fan on high to fuel it! You expressed this in a way that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. I just “hid” those “friends” that can’t keep their mouths shut. Thanks, again.

Pete in Bedford September 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I went “politics free” on my FB wall over a year ago for many of the reasons folks are discussing here.
If anyone is interested in a fascinating book about why good people fight about politics, I highly recommend this recently published gem: http://www.amazon.com/The-Righteous-Mind-Politics-Religion/dp/0307377903/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347048907&sr=8-1&keywords=haidt

Rachelle September 7, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I really liked your post b/c it reminded me of something I was always proud of…. I can see things from both sides of the fence. That was a fact that I began to forget as political battles heated up last year hear in Wisconsin. I was in my fair share of facebook “discussions” that turned nasty. I will no longer do any political discussions on facebook b/c of the nasty nature they ALL took, no matter how civil it started out. It is much easier to be excessively rude on the computer than it is in person, and once the attack starts, well, the worse it gets.
Thank you for reminding me to look from both sides of the fence. 🙂 There are elements on both sides that I see. There is no need to be so mean to each other.

Evana September 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I shared your blog post. Then I posted on my status that I was going to keep my Facebook page apolitical from today on. I would not post anything political and I was going to block all political posts. Guess what? I got crap!! My position was challenged. I kept repeating my mantra that it was my facebook experience and I was going to be in control of it. Now every time one of my friends posts a political “share” I hide the feed.
I am a 60 year old grandmother so I have seen many election cycles but this one is the worst I have ever experienced,
I am also fed up with the vitriol. When people are behind a screen they seem to become so much braver than they are in real life. I found that I too was braver. I would never challenge people in the real world the way I did on Facebook.
Keep up the good blog.

Sherree September 8, 2012 at 7:35 am

I also shared your blog post — on every one of my social media platforms. Friends, then shared it further. I had announced months ago that I would not comment on political things as I didn’t want to get into a vitriolic debate with anyone. Sadly, the snark, nastiness, and general unpleasantness that I was seeing, particularly on Facebook, was really getting to me. I desperately wanted to say something, but also wanted to keep my word. So, I used your words. I was not surprised at the response your post generated on my wall.

Thank you so much for putting into words what I (and many others) have been thinking and feeling. Your follow-up post is spot-on as well.

Sara September 8, 2012 at 8:06 am

You.Go.Girl!
Your initial post was shared on my own wall with many “Likes” and comments that it is the best thing they’ve read, politics-wise. I, like many, are certainly glad you took that lunch break to write down your feelings 🙂

Liz September 8, 2012 at 12:26 pm

THANK YOU for the original. I reposted it just today and within 2 min someone else had shared it. I *love* when people get involved in debates and political discussions but there is so much hate that the issues no longer are the focus. Appreciate it (and will probably start checking out your blog a lot more!), many thanks.

Wendy September 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

thank you for writing this. I saw the original post on a friend’s facebook, and shared it. Then I went on to read this post also. Wonderful! I have actually had to block most of my dad’s facebook posts, as they are the quite vicious poster-esque campaigning. Again, thank you. You have given us all a well-written, thought-provoking tool to help everyone remain civil.

Melissa September 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm

So well said. Thank you for sharing the frustrations that many of us are feeling. How sad that we have stooped so low as a society!

Jennifer Wirt September 9, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I’m replying to your original post here, since you were driven to discontinue comments over there. I agree with every single word of your post, and, in fact, am emailing it to many people (something I virtually never do). Thank you for writing what I have been thinking for months now. I appreciate your courage, I appreciate your insight, and I appreciate your beautiful way of writing. Keep up the good work!

Dominique September 9, 2012 at 10:06 pm

I have to say that while I agree with the overall sentiment of your original post, I feel that you made one critical mistake that far too many others also make – you forgot that there are more than two political parties. While you are trying to avoid the “us and them” mentality, you are also perpetuating it by assuming that all voters are members of one party or the other. I feel very fortunate that none of my friends have (yet) posted anything like you are talking about – this election – however, I get tired of the question, “are you a Dem or a Rep?” I am neither. I am a passionate voter who has found a different party that I agree with more thoroughly than the major two. Please don’t fall into the same trap as those who make asinine comments on your wall…honor ALL voters, not just the “usses and thems.”

Annie September 10, 2012 at 5:49 am

Dominique, you might enjoy the post I wrote in response to Ginger’s and to what occurred on my own Facebook page when I shared her post. I also don’t fit neatly into the two party system.

http://www.dogwoodgirl.net/blog/?p=5668

Josh September 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I am glad that you seem to be an optimist still despite that fact that, notwithstanding the apparent ideological differences, the Republican and Democratic parties are controlled by the same political and financial interests. See http://www.corporate-aliens.com/quotes/getquote.php?Michael-C.-Ruppert&quoteid=756.

Ellen September 11, 2012 at 7:40 am

Wonderful follow-up to an awesome post! I am one of the many who shared it on FB. Just found your blog and really enjoy it! Thanks so much! 🙂

Jeanne September 11, 2012 at 7:51 am

Your Blog was shared with me by a fbook friend, I will now follow your Blog… I found your post to be right on with exactly what I feel. I am guilty of avoiding conflict with incivility in the public arena. In my opinion, it just makes 2 people behaving poorly when I argue with someone who I feel is inappropriate. I love that you reminded me that there is a delete button on my keyboard, for a good reason. I will be using it more often. Life is hard enough without trying to sift out all the unnecessary bashing that goes on.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Vicki September 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I just wanted to be another person to say Thank you! Oh and great follow-up post. I have never posted any political post on FB or anywhere else. Nor have I commented for the very reason you wrote about. In my opinion, hurling personal insults results in losing any creditability in an argument. However, for the first time, I “shared” your blog post that I saw on a friends feed. It is the only one I have found worth sharing. Great job. Oh, and you have a new fan and follower.

AJ September 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Kudos to you for taking on one of the trifecta of “topics of discussions you should never start.” Thank you! I totally agree 100%. (((HUGS)))

Candice September 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Thank you! Your post was something that desperately needed to be said. The moment politics comes up these days, especially online, people seem to lose all sense of civility. I’ve had things said to me or to my friends on Facebook about politics that I’m sure the posters would never have dared to say to us in person.

MelissaPete September 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I loved both your posts. I posted the links on facebook and am hoping all my friends read. I just finished reading the ignorant comments on a recent Yahoo article. I didn’t know this level of poo flinging existed. It makes us sound like uneducated, ignorant blockheads, as a human race, that is. What would happen if we went back to intelligent, sensitive dialogue? One can dream…

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