Campaign brings out worst in Facebook pals

I’m tired.

Tired of the endless onslaught of political emails, the unceasing repetition of political ads, pollsters who keep calling at the worst times and the 24-hour cable news cycle that has apparently forgotten there are other happenings to report besides the presidential campaign.
And I’m really, really tired of avoiding Facebook, for fear of never wanting to speak to someone again. Before this election started heating up, I’d never used the “block” feature on my page. I’m well-versed with it now.

Why is it that people feel the need to post such idiotic, downright hateful stuff about candidates they oppose?

There’s something about the Internet that is bringing out the worst in us. I noticed this a long time ago, when reading comment sections to various news stories on the Web. The anonymity provided there seems to bring forth a wrath of negativity and disparagements.

Case in point: When it was announced several years ago that the State Fair would be moving to Grand Island, the Lincoln Journal Star’s website was flooded with anger directed toward central Nebraska. I was angered while reading all of those comments — made anonymously — especially the ones from those residents who claimed to have once lived in this part of the state. I’m sorry those people weren’t happy here, but I am. I wish those people would keep that in mind before posting such hateful things about former hometowns or others’ hometowns. I’m guessing those commenters have family and friends here who enjoy living in this area of the state as well. Would you ever say that to their faces?

I was not surprised that few letters came in signed and ready to be printed speaking so negatively about the same issue. Apparently, we are much better at speaking negatively when we don’t have to own up to our own missives.

But now, it’s no longer a problem of anonymity, but rather distance. I highly doubt that some of these people on Facebook, many of whom I’ve known my whole life, would say some of these things to my face or to the face of anyone else for which they hold even the smallest shred of respect. Respect is, after all, a two-way street, and I don’t think anyone would hurl such insults to someone’s face and expect to still be held in high regard.

I’m fine — and completely comfortable — with political discourse. It’s part of my job — along with my passion for news and reading — to stay informed on issues and to have frank discussions about those issues with many different people. But political discourse is one thing; vitriol is another. Even if I agree with a political stance, I don’t enjoy reading a post about how a certain candidate should jump off a cliff or hates America — or worse.

There are big issues facing us from the federal level all the way down to our communities. Harping on each other is never going to solve those problems. Neither is posting cheap shots on Facebook.

Deann Stumpe

In her weekly column that runs Mondays in the Hastings Tribune, Deann Stumpe gabs about relationships, movies and TV, and life with a baby. She is the Tribune’s special sections editor.

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