A strong contender for Understatement of the Year is that this has been a particularly harsh and divisive election cycle. From our small, local elections all the way to the presidency the vitriol has been fierce. I have done my very best to be civil, in fact it is a pillar of my campaign. Where I have failed at that, I apologize. I will always endeavor to do better.
Nowhere has the invective been more harrowing and more visible than on the social networks like Facebook and Twitter. In fact, even one of the presidential nominees has raised polemics and vituperation to a kind of 140-character surrealist art form. The resulting epidemic of confirmation bias has been staggering, and harmful to the Republic.
People who were once close friends refuse to ever speak again because of a meme that one saw as clever and the other as condescending. We hide behind the pseudo-anonymity of our mobile devices, all alone in crowds, innocently sharing a news story we found interesting, only to discover we have failed some heretofore unheard of purity test and stand accused of being a traitor to the cause.
I possess, as you may have noticed, some very strongly-held political beliefs, stances and opinions. I enjoy debating them, especially in written form (because I write better than I speak). Thus a back-and-forth over the merits of the minimum wage or the dangers of the Citizens United decision on Facebook or in some random comments section of a blog has proven to be a stimulating academic exercise for me, and hopefully for the others involved in the conversation.
Somewhere down the line, alas, we went off the rails. I have watched as otherwise rational people, some in elected office and some not, are both slingers and receivers of accusations of racism, treason, infidelity to some cause, or fill-in-the-blank-phobias. So much so that I have been not just victim, but occasional perpetrator as well. Once again, my apologies.
Presuming I am fortunate enough to be elected in November, as seems fairly likely at the moment, but you never know, once in office I will not debate County business on Facebook or any social network. This might complicate things for me, but, if I have to give up on being on social networks, then so be it.
These things are too important, and if people want to speak with me, they should do so personally. Email (ElectKurtFriese@gMail.com) is usually the best way to reach me. I'll maintain my campaign page, and folks can complain about me there if they like, as long as it's civil. I won't delete anything that's not mean or violent. Persistently mean people will be blocked, and any threats (God forbid) will be addressed to the authorities.
I am not going to abandon Facebook and Twitter, Not yet, at any rate. I value my connections to dear friends and family near and far that are fostered through the medium. I will continue to post information, including county business where appropriate, that I feel is of importance. And yes, when I find a particularly interesting news article – even if it is political – I will still share it. But here’s what I will not do:
- I will not debate official business on social networks
- I will not engage in name-calling, vitriol, or taunting
- I will not keep “friends” on my personal Facebook feed who are not actual, real-life friends
- I will not tolerate invective on my pages, streams, and networks·
- I will not silence fair criticism of my work, nor will I countenance petty meanness or threats
All of this will go into effect over the next couple of months in ways that friends and “followers” may or may not notice happening. None of this will save the world. It will, however, make my little corner of it a little more pleasant to be in, and hopefully, it will make me a better and more effective public servant. Wish me luck.