One thing is obvious about me: Politics matters. And yet, I’m withdrawing from it a little. There’s a reason, of course.
I’m not withdrawing from all politics or, more to the point, discussing it: This blog is the home for whatever is on my mind at any given moment, and very often that means something political. Those who are interested can play along with me and those who aren’t don’t have to stop by.
However, it’s a little different on social media, where we interact with a wide variety of people. Awhile back, I accidentally noticed—because I don’t pay attention to such things—that someone I know and care about in real life had “unfriended” me on Facebook, and it was almost certainly because I talked about US politics a lot last year (we see things differently, shall we say). That gave me pause. I’ve since changed my approach to Facebook.
As I’ve said many times, Facebook has the highest percentage of people I know in real life of any of the social media I take part in. Many of those IRL people are apolitical and a few are even anti-political (and a few more have politics rather the opposite of my own). While I wouldn’t deliberately choose to alienate anyone, these particular people aren’t casual enough that I want to jettison them from my life.
And so some weeks ago, I started cutting back on the overtly political things I posted to Facebook. At first, I limited political posts to being only about New Zealand politics, but then I started cutting back on that, too. Now, pretty much my only “political” posts are when I blog about something political and it shows up in my news feed on Facebook because of the Networked Blogs autopost. That may not continue forever, either.
The consequence of this is that I’ve been posting less stuff to Facebook overall. To some, that may be a bad thing, but to others it’s a good thing. Either way, it definitely means far less politics. What this also means, I hope, is that if I do post something political to Facebook because it’s important enough to me that I feel I must, people will notice and not just tune out because it’s yet another liberal political post from me. A sort of less is more approach, and it’s why I call this a “tactical withdrawal”: I’m hoping that if I talk about politics less, the people I need to reach will listen more.
Obviously I haven’t completely parted company with politics on Facebook (or anywhere else): I still take part in discussions about political things that other people post (I have several politically-minded friends, most of whom think more or less as I do). And, in addition to this blog, I post overtly political things to Google+ and to Twitter, both of which are less personal for me than Facebook is. So it’s not like I don’t have other options.
This is my solution. As far as I’m concerned, it’s like any social situation: We take our cues from other people and how they act, and most people I know on Facebook were nowhere near as political as I was. If I made the wrong choice, people will tell me, unlike those who thought I was too political and didn’t tell me. But I think that for me this is a sensible balance.
We’ll see if I can stay withdrawn.