Five reasons to avoid political Facebook arguments

The Facebook branch of the Cambridge bubble is constantly rippling with political tension.

arguments Facebook Political social media

Anyone who has spent any length of time at Cambridge is very familiar with the contentious political facebook post, inevitably followed by a 378- strong comment thread – of which no one can be bothered to read more than the last ten. Bouts of online fisticuffs are notoriously easy to get into; that one really insightful comment, a temptress sneaking from mind to fingertip…

Here are five reasons why freshers should steer clear of political facebook arguments, and the rest of us should give up on them.

1. They are a waste of precious time

you'd have that essay done by now if you weren't fighting the good fight...

you’d have that essay done by now if you weren’t fighting the good fight with emojis…

Where does everyone find the time to get into Facebook arguments? We are all students, and while that shouldn’t necessarily mean we have more important things to do, surely we have something else to do. Finding a good work/life/sleep balance is supposed to be among the hardest things for a Cambridge student to achieve. It is probably a lot easier to manage if one doesn’t spend precious hours replying to comments on these interminable threads.

Students of economics and politics should also note that a thread being subject-relevant does not make it anything more than glorified procrastination. There are so many better ways of being unproductive; like drinking tea, napping or even playing weird online games that if we think about it, Facebook Arguments are waste of wasting time.

2. They are fundamentally pointless

a visual representation of how useful these efforts at political activism are to the world

a visual representation of how useful these efforts at political activism are to the world

Cambridge students may like to think of themselves as the future saviours of the world. To a point, this is fair enough – statistically some of them may go on to make a difference. As hard as it might be to accept, however, changing the world is unlikely to start with 100 comments on a thread that practically nobody can be bothered to read.

Write a nice article maybe, or a blog post, and then try not to engage in argument over it. Even the most thoughtful, well-placed comment on the fundamental un-electability/virtue/key policy deficiency/(Insert as appropriate) of Jeremy Corbyn will not dramatically alter the fate of the country.

3. They annoy most other people on Facebook

As infuriating on the newsfeed as inspirational quotes and pictures of minions. Almost.

As infuriating on the newsfeed as inspirational quotes and pictures of minions. Almost.

Facebook is a public forum. These arguments -constantly brought back to the top of everyone’s newsfeeds with fresh comments and new likes – only serve to frustrate everyone who is forced unwillingly to glance across this cesspit of unnecessary confrontation.

The only thing more annoying than this is starting these arguments on the posts of people who really obviously don’t care about the political issue you are trying to make of what they probably thought was an innocuous post. I have done this before. I am not proud.

4. They never change anyone’s mind really

"that's it Kevin, I am deleting you and every other supporter of Keynsian economics on my friends list"

“that’s it Kevin, I am deleting you and every other supporter of Keynsian economics on my friends list”

Has anyone ever come out of a Facebook argument thinking, “You know what, that’s completely revolutionised my whole world outlook, and now I think I’m going to change my opinions about everything and become a better person filled with more wisdom and compassion”? I doubt it. They are set up to be overly confrontational and public.

The people who get into these arguments already have incredibly strong opinion from which they are unlikely to back down. If they do change their mind, it is far more likely to be through something substantial that they read or a proper conversation than from some bitchy titbit in reply to comment number 48.

5. They just make everybody involved into a worse person

This is your soul on facebook-rage

This is your soul on facebook-rage

This follows on from my previous point, really. No one is ever really willing to change their mind in a Facebook argument, because Facebook is a public forum and everyone has entered the word-brawl with strongly held opinions. No one wants to back down because that would mean losing face. So everyone argues their own opinions more and more aggressively.

Ground was given more easily in the battle of the Somme than in the average political Facebook exchange. In the worst cases, the people involved group into factions and like all the comments of the people they agree with – and it soon becomes quite heated, rude, personal, and childish. Everyone leaves frustrated and feeling a little victimised, and all involved behaved like nastier people than they do normally.

Having firm opinions is a good thing and it is fine to whip them out occasionally. But really, we must all make a pledge to stop contributing to the huge amount of pointless, angry things on the internet in this most irritating of ways.