If you have a Facebook account (most of us do), if you’re concerned about the election (most of us are), and if you’ve allowed the pandemic to skyrocket your time spent on screens (most of us have)…this column is for you.
First, some bad news: you’re probably using Facebook to try to persuade someone, and it’s a lousy tool for the job.
Think back to school…how did you open your mind to a new activity? I’ll tell you how it didn’t happen: some friend of a friend passes you a harsh handwritten note that says “you and all your scum friends should join band practice like me and all my clan. Band Clan rules! (Now read the long justification to my snarky note at this URL).”
It happened because someone introduced you to an activity they liked, and you let down your guard a bit and discovered it was fun. In essence, your friend talked you into coming to band practice and you realized you liked music.
Unfortunately for our society, we have become two massive cliques, and we’re all attending school at Facebook High dressed in our Red or Blue uniforms. Facebook High is a large school; it has 2.7 B students. Classes aren’t in-person and there are no faculty or staff. We all have the power to deliver that bully note anonymously, across time-zones.
But let’s face it: even though we know it’s not persuasive, we’re all likely to fall into the temptation to answer back to the provoking thread or post the thing we’re outraged by. Facebook activates three emotions which are brutally hard to walk away from: ego (I’m better than you), envy (you’re better than me), and outrage (I can’t believe that you’re worse than me and you posted that political trash!)
So, if you’re going to engage (and you probably are), here’s how to engage and protect your sanity and others’.
We all are in one giant school now, but the faculty aren’t attentive. They have a conflict of interest, because they are actually incentivized to get their kids into food fights. It’s up to us to be respectful citizens of that school.