Throughout this election year, I must have written a half-dozen blog entries I eventually decided against posting—just because I didn’t want to be accused of crossing the line from observant, neutral journalist to opinionated commentator siding with one candidate over the other.
Even a post I had planned to publish on the Monday evening before the big day, a Kumbaya, conciliatory plea advocating, regardless of the outcome, an end to the political party gamesmanship—even that one I left unpublished (though I regretted it when, on Tuesday night, every network news analyst called for the same thing).
Then I fell off the self-censoring wagon and landed face first in the mud of social media.
On Wednesday, the day after the election, my Facebook friend Kathie posted what I thought was a timeless quote from JFK on the subject of reaching across the aisle. Beneath her post, Sandra commented, referring to President Obama as “Osama.” I couldn’t help myself. I commented on Sandra’s comment, pointing out that regardless of whether one supports or opposes Mr. Obama, the unnecessary ethnic slur and other name calling only weakens one’s argument as well as credibility.
The next thing I know Sandra and other “friends” participating in the discussion are pouncing on me as if I were a pigeon tossed into a pile of hungry cats. Sandra labeled me a member of the “liberal lame stream media” who can’t put together two words “without a teleprompter.”
Now, I’ve never met Sandra. She lives in Arizona. She’s never seen me at work; whereas you have, and if I’ve done my job properly over the past 30 years, you really don’t know my political views. Old school journalists like me take pride in maintaining our neutrality on the air, and often off the air, as well (It can drive friends and spouses nuts!).
But not knowing my work, my politics, or me, didn’t stop Sandra.
Then again, when have you ever seen an Internet comment such as, “You know. You make a good point. I didn’t think of that. Thank you for pointing that out.”
No. It’s more like “Oh yeah? The last time I checked this is a free country! And your mom has three big toes!”
Two things I’ve learned about social media: Don’t talk politics with your friends on Facebook even if they agree with you, because their friends may not. Also, some people will post things on the Internet they would never say to someone in person.
Nathan Bransford, one of the top pilots in the Blogosphere, posted about jerks on the Internet. It’s worth your read. You may want to share it with some of your friends…
(BTW. Sixty Minutes put together a good piece on both Republicans and Democrats needing to put aside the interests of their respective parties and look after the interests of the country. Read or watch it here).