When politics end, can we be Facebook friends again?

When politics end, can we be Facebook friends again?

Credit: KING

When politics end, can we be Facebook friends again?

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by TRAVIS PITTMAN / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 1, 2012 at 2:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 1 at 2:38 PM

The things that have been said during the presidential campaign have been described as vicious, divisive and sometimes just downright mean -- and it's not just coming from the candidates.

It’s also from average people on Facebook, interacting with friends and even relatives – often using words they might not otherwise say to each other face-to-face.

“Would you go on and on about politics when talking with someone in person? I think not. People like to be on a soapbox on Facebook. They forget manners,” said Leta.

We asked people on Facebook to tell us if they have unfriended someone or been unfriended over politics. We received more answers than we expected.

"I was 'unfriended' by someone whom I have been friends with for almost 36 years, which was quite a shock to me!" said Laurie.

Someone might “like” an article or post a meme that supports a particular candidate or party, or will tell others how they should vote. Suddenly, the claws and insults can come out and people are unfriended. In some cases, the unfriending crosses from Facebook to real life.

“Unfortunately, I feel that I might have seriously damaged a friendship based on political posts,” said Kristy. “We are both so passionate about our opposite positions and because of that, we couldn't step away enough to protect the boundaries of our friendship.”

“I have blocked four very rude and very mean people on Facebook due to the fact they didn't like my choice and told me to basically go to Hell,” said Lori.

“I posted ONE comment on how I felt a couple weeks ago. It started a fight between two friends who didn't know each other,” said Kristen.

Social media has allowed campaigns to spread the word faster. It’s allowed special interests to push their agendas over a wider swath. It’s given 900 million Facebook users the opportunity to tell their friends how they plan to vote and, in many cases, how they think their friends should vote.

It seems to go against a time-honored rule many have adopted.

“I was taught a long time ago to never converse over politics with friends or family. Never ends well,” said Angel.

It’s not just Facebook friendships being severed. Some families say they are being torn apart,

"My cousin suggested I change my name, not so much a threat, he was saying basically I'm not worthy of the name," said Jamie.

A woman named Judy said she and her mother support one party, but her brother supports another. When Judy posted which presidential candidate would get their vote, she said her brother unfriended them both.

"He doesn't talk to me but occasionally talks to my mother. His wife is still on our Facebook so we get to see pictures of their baby.”

Some people said they just don’t want to be bombarded with political opinions constantly.

“I just unfollowed someone on Twitter. And I’m about ready to hide their posts on my Facebook soon,” said Stephanie. “I get you have an opinion, but you don’t need to post 20 statuses in 1 hour about it.”

Others have said they haven’t gone so far as to unfriend, but they simply remove the person from their news feed, saying everyone has the right to speak their mind.

If you’re not a Democrat or Republican, you may have been just as vulnerable to attack.

“I was just unfriended yesterday because I'm a Libertarian, with half of me agreeing with what Republicans have to say and half of me agreeing with what Democrats have to say, but ALL of me being able to see the big picture and even though I don't agree with the specific policy,” said Dustin.

But there are those who appreciate social media for opening them up to other points of view.

“I seek out people with opposite opinions from me,” said Scott. “It expands my knowledge base and I have found in most cases it actually reinforces my opinion on a great number of subjects. Unfriending people because they have an opposite opinion or are strongly versed in the arguments of their opinion seems silly and takes away from the discourse that makes everybody smarter and better informed.”

"In a way, I blame Facebook for throwing so much into the face/newsfeed of participants' friends,” said Shannon from Bothell. "But, I also commend Facebook for making us not hide behind our beliefs. I find the political conversations I have had are ones I don't think would ever have happened face-to-face.”

So if you are one of those who have unfriended others during this campaign season, will you welcome back those friends with open arms after Tuesday, or has too much damage been done?

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