Editor’s Note: This is a co-authored blog by Amy Martin and Katelyn Stiver.
We get it. If you’re used to scrolling through your Facebook feed and seeing mostly playful kittens and cooing babies – you have really been thrown for a loop this past year.
Our social channels – and primarily Facebook because there is no word limit – have been inundated with opinions, concerns and fears about what’s happening in the news and in our country. This includes people throwing out their two cents on vaccinations, LGBTQ rights, racism, sexism, animal activism, sexual assault, the “wall,” police tactics – the list could go on and on.
Now more than ever, you’re hearing and seeing how people you’ve chosen to follow and engage with actually feel. And for many of you, it’s infuriating! We’ve seen many posts that say “Can’t we just go back to posting about our cute babies” or “We are going to lose the millennial population if we continue to bombard them with our political rants.”
Well, not so fast.
The fact is social media sites like Facebook are becoming the main source for news for the upcoming generations. Per a Pew Research Study, “Millennials rely on Facebook for their news far more than any other source,” and they’re exposed to more political content than any other generation. Plus, if you haven’t noticed – this generation has opinions, and they aren’t afraid to share them!
Now, we’re not impervious to the desire to tell someone to keep their mouth shut every once in a while – it happens, we’re all human. But we’re a bit confused with the folks who feel the need to shut people down for sharing their opinion on Facebook – as if they are the authoritative figure on how Facebook should be used.
The only people who really have the authority to say how Facebook is meant to be used is…well, Facebook!
Facebook’s mission statement: Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.
Right now, many people are concerned about what’s happening in the country, and they want to “share and express that” because it’s what “matters to them.” So to say that Facebook isn’t the place to discuss these things is really to just say that it’s not something that YOU wish to discuss on Facebook – which is completely ok!
We don’t all have to love the same things or think the same way, but we do need to respect the fact that we all have the right to share what matters to us.
And let’s not forget – the beauty of Facebook is that you can customize your experience. You can unfollow or unfriend anyone who is offending you with their political rants or annoying you with their constant baby photos. (Let’s be honest, sometimes the amount of pet and baby photos can get a little overwhelming too). Or you can simply scroll past without engaging.
The bottom line is this – social channels are a way for people to expand conversations. To find and connect to people who think or don’t think the same way you do with no geographical boundaries. It allows people in the U.S. to connect with others in India instantly. It allows for massive information sharing, and it gives EVERYONE some type of voice.
We would like to offer a note of caution though: Be careful who you try to mute, keep quiet or shame for speaking their minds. They might just unfollow you (online and off).