Why I Don’t Talk Politics on Social Media

I went back and forth on whether to actually publish this post. Because I know some people will disagree and I will inevitably leave out something important or word something incorrectly. But it was written straight from my heart, and those are the most vulnerable and scary ones to share with the world. So since I’m sharing with an open heart, I hope you’ll read this with an open heart. 

But first, take a moment and focus on that title. The key word in it…is I. Why I don’t talk politics/controversial issues/etc. on social media. The title doesn’t read Why You Shouldn’t Talk Politics on Social Media because I’m not speaking out against those who do. This isn’t an advice column. It’s more of a journal entry, really. I’m simply sharing my story and my personal reasons.

Last week, following the Charlottseville events, I could barely go on social media. It was hard enough reading about the deaths and the riots and the hatred and the brokenness…but what actually brought all that hate home was stepping into the den of social media.

It was like entering a stadium where everyone is screaming. At each other. 

Words are powerful (that whole “sticks and stones” thing is a lie, btw). And because my every day is founded so deeply in words, the vitriol and rage on Twitter was especially painful to swallow.

There’s a huge difference in fighting against something versus fighting for something. 

So many voices on Twitter were against. Some against neo-nazis, some against Trump, some against Black Lives Matter, some against white supremacy, some against KKK, the list goes on.

But what I didn’t really see unification happening from people being for something. (This may also be part of who I actually follow. So please don’t read this as a generalization.)

Finger-pointing doesn’t fix the problem. It perpetuates it by stoking the defensiveness. 

There was shaming for speaking out. There was shaming for staying silent. The majority of comment threads I peeked in on spewed hate and anger and sarcasm and backlash and a total lack of grace. Even when someone tried to share love and comfort, hatred responded.

So I didn’t Tweet.

I didn’t post.

But I certainly had a lot I could have said.

But what I encountered on the walls of Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram to a small extent…was not communication. And from someone who spent 7 years of higher education studying communication disorders, I know a bit about it. 😉 

Communication is one of the most difficult hurdles we face in life–even with the people closest to us, let alone the acquaintances on social media. So since communication is such a fragile and intricate thing, I can’t do it affectively when limited to 140 characters over hot-button, life-changing topics. (I’m obviously referencing Twitter…)

Some people think that because I don’t tweet a stance or a statement or an outrage that I don’t speak out.

Well–for me–that’s not speaking. That’s tweeting.

I speak. In person. Over coffee. Over phone. Over Skype. And I’ll talk to you at length about whatever you want to discuss–politics, religion, identity, racism, etc. But if you want to hear from me on a sensitive topic then it has to be voice-to-voice. Face-to-face. Over coffee where we can act like human beings. (Because without coffee we’re all zombies anyway.)

Here’s why:

Because on Twitter, you can’t see the “I love you” in my eyes when we’re talking.

Because on Facebook you can’t hear my tone of voice–and that it’s gentle and broken right there with yours.

Because on Instagram you can’t see how intensely I’m listening to you and valuing your words. 

Communication is more about listening than about talking. And social media is often more about talking than listening. On top of that, it’s often merciless because we tend to focus more on dissecting the word choice than peering into the heart behind it. (Though there are times when we look at the heart and see the light…or see the sludge.)

Social media isn’t without its ability to communicate. It’s part of our culture and I do believe that God has given us voices and opportunities and we should use those. But He’s also given us different personalities and different ways to reach each other–and we need to understand that, too. I am not able to communicate my heart via social media. But others can–and I respect those who do use their voices and their gifts and their personal wiring to communicate love on social media (so this is not a bash against those who do speak out on those platforms.)

But instead of you picking apart my sentence and looking for the typos or errors or holes in my logic, I’d rather you be picking apart my facial expression and realizing that I’m flawed, but I love you–so my words may not be perfect but hopefully you’ll see my heart and it will transcend the gaps in our conversation.

I am not a coward. I have a lot of thoughts about the state of our country, our world, our people. But 99% of the time, social media is not the place for me (repeat: ME) to share them. And I understand that people say “If you have a voice, you should use it” and “If you’re not using your voice to speak out, then you’re “privileged” and that’s evil.”

know I’m privileged. I know I’m white. I know I’m a follower of Christ and I know that those three things are three strikes against me out on the interweb.

But I’m using my voice. It’s just not in the way that the public is demanding. Yet it’s just as effective as those doing the shouting.

A heartfelt whisper in an ear.

A passionate shout across mountains.

An honest conversation in a coffee shop.

All of these can change the world when done in love. But the world needs to understand that not everyone is a mountain-topper or a coffee-shopper or a whisperer.

And that starts with listening.

 


Above all, love one another deeply… [1 Peter 4:8]

How can I hear you today? What would you like to say?

.



 

About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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44 Comments

  1. Wonderful post! You’ve shared my own reasons for backing away from the insanity of hot-button topics- only much more eloquently. For me, screaming into a mob of angry people isn’t something I’m called to do (and that’s exactly what happens on social media sometimes). I agree that this is my opinion for ME, and pray it doesn’t come across as a judgement of those who feel called into the middle of the mess. Thank you for sharing your heart!

    • Thank you, Edie! I know I’m not alone in how I approach social media discussions and I’m also thankful for those that God has gifted with the heart and ability to talk about hot-button topics via social media.

  2. This post is so good! You’re so right, people don’t want to love- they want to hate. People have to want to listen, want to be loved, before it can make a difference. Such a good post!
    (This also confirms that I want to meet you in person one day, because you seem so so nice!)

  3. AMEN. Exact same reason here. *applauds*

  4. I love this post. Thank you for being vulnerable to us.
    One thing that really stood out to me was the statement,” And from someone who spent 7 years of higher education studying communication disorders, I know a bit about it.”
    I’m interested in this aspect of your education. May I suggest a post or two on communication disorders. I know it’s off your format but it’s getting hostile out there and a voice of reason couldn’t hurt.
    Just a thought. Once again thanks for sharing.

  5. Nathan Mileski

    Thank you, Nadine! Very powerful truths right there.
    This is the one reason I’m grateful I don’t have a Facebook account; there’s just too much hatred out there, and it’s easier to show hate online than in person. It’s much better to talk in person, where you can show your love.

    • “it’s easier to show hate online than in person.” It’s funny how that happens. I think because it’s easier to let out the hate when you’re not seeing the facial expressions and reactions and heart of another person.

  6. Love this.
    And I agree with Eldie – it would be fascinating to hear more about your experiences with communication disorders. (My daughter has severe dyslexia which has created challenges in her speech – and I have several extended family members who are extremely difficult to understand due to speech sound disorders.)

    • I might do a post on that sometime. I really enjoyed studying comm disorders in school–it opened my eyes to a lot of life that I don’t think I would have seen had I studied something in the veins of writing.

  7. I love this. I don’t talk politics on social media either, and I tend to avoid arguments. This is why. No one shows any respect for each other. It’s sad. :'(

    • Some people show respect. 🙂 And I’m always impressed with those who can talk on social media about deep things with a listening heart. But it’s true that often the arguments, hate, and lack-of-respect tend to be the loudest and the first we encounter.

  8. Abraham Sherman

    *thumbs up emoji*

  9. So perfectly said.

  10. Love you and your heart, Nadine. <3 For me … (and this, like you said, is ME … not you or that person or that other person … but where/how the Lord is personally calling me), I do feel compelled to share/speak on social media in addition to intentionally seeking out conversations with people face-to-face in my community. I think this is in large part due to the fact that my personal journey regarding race in America began online. On social media. So I believe that journey can begin for others online as well, and my heart yearns for more and more people to take that journey. My heart yearns for change. This is where God has me for now. Who knows how that will morph and change with time. Love you!

    • Yes! I completely agree! And you do it so well. That is definitely a point I was trying to make (but I think it got a little muddled) in that some people are equipped and capable of speaking out with love and action through social media. Those are the mountain-toppers. 😉 And I’m definitely not one of those people. LOL. But I admire (and sometimes envy) those who can and do use their voices successfully through the social media outlets.
      I love what God’s doing through you and your voice. <3

  11. Beautiful. Just plain beautiful. And I can’t add anything 😀 <3

  12. What’s interesting is that it comes from both sides … People are accused/condemned/judged for not speaking, and people are accused/condemned/judged for speaking. I know you’re not doing either, here!! It’s just something I’ve observed lately. I think the danger comes when we assume the way we’ve been called is the way it should be done and there’s no gray. I know people have been deeply hurt by vitriol online, and then there are people like me and others I’ve heard from privately … whose eyes have been opened online. God can use anything … but sadly, so can our enemy. <3 Okay! I'll stop commenting on your blog now. 🙂

    • I love your comments and your insight. 🙂
      I’ve observed the same thing and I think that’s one reason I felt the need to share this blog post–to encourage that understanding that there ARE two sides. Sometimes even more than two. And that there are different ways to speak out and we’ve been equipped and even designed to speak out successfully through different avenues.

      Thank you, sweet friend!
      Love you!

  13. I love this the most:

    “Because on Twitter, you can’t see the “I love you” in my eyes when we’re talking.

    Because on Facebook you can’t hear my tone of voice–and that it’s gentle and broken right there with yours.

    Because on Instagram you can’t see how intensely I’m listening to you and valuing your words. ”

    I believe you have expressed the feelings of so many. Thank you for sharing your heart with the world!

  14. Lovely, beautiful post. This also really applys in Australia at the moment with he postal plebiside, sometimes I want to say something, but I have kept silent because there is just so much hate, from both sides. It’s so sad, but often people don’t listen, on social media. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, your heart in this post.

  15. Beautifully written! My problem is, I get upset, and then post. Not usually, but….thank you for your honest and thoughtful post. It will make me think and pause before I get upset and counter post! God bless!

    • It’s hard not to react. There are so many times I want to post or respond in the moment, but I make myself walk away and, instead, pray. Then hasn’t been a time that I regretted it.

  16. Such an awesome post! I love your heart shining through! I struggle getting on Facebook many days because there is so much hate, negativity, and craziness. I love when Facebook and other social media use their powers for good though. Thank you for voicing what so many often feel!

  17. I understand completely. I ended up posting a call for unity, and even then, I hesitated, bracing for negative reactions from those who would be against a gentle voice.

  18. Love this my friend – I know your heart and I’ve benefited from amazing conversations with you! I am in agreement with you (as you know) and love that you shared your thought process here! <3

  19. Wow. This must’ve taken a lot of courage to write. Thank you for speaking out in a way that made you uncomfortable.

  20. How you have written the whispers of my heart here, so very well! I want to be about healing and good things, not ripping others apart. Life is too short. When you’ve faced threatening situations (medical or fires) somehow all the noise seems unimportant. But the neighbor I meet on the street, or the person in front of me who needs something, is a better place to dive deep on touchy things. Judging never works. Facing into pain and speaking truth and hope always builds bridges of hope.

  21. Thank you so much for for writing this, Nadine, and for being brave enough to post it. I don’t talk politics on social media either and everything you said here is the exact reason why. 1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” There are too many clanging cymbals on social media already. I don’t want to be one of them, or, due to a limit in characters, or the inability to hear my tone of voice/see my face, be mistaken for one when that was not my intention at all. I only want to use my social media to be kind, show love, uplift, and make people smile, and I feel that requires knowing both when to speak and when not to.

    Thank you again.

  22. Yes! So many don’t want to listen to what you are trying to say and just assume.
    I live an hour and a half from Charlottesville and was shocked when I realized what was happening. And recently at my school they took down a statue, so there are a lot of thoughts on both sides as to all the events.
    In the end I just pray, because I know of no other way to handle it.

  23. Pingback: Why I Don’t Talk Politics on Social Media — Nadine Brandes – Inkwell Sisters

  24. Your written words echo precisely how many of us feel, your passion & eloquence are very much appreciated. Thank you – ❤Janet Vrtol

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  26. I love this. You expressed the principle so simply and effectively, I think you’re doing some great communicating right here. 🙂

    I think it’s wise to recognize that sensitive topics must be handled with love, and that often on social media, it is very hard or even impossible to clearly convey the love you are trying to express with your treatment of a topic.

    I had a long-distance friend tell me something to that effect that, quite frankly, I didn’t want to hear. I was talking about how I love having deep discussions, and he said, “Yeah, but those are best done in person.” I didn’t want to hear it. But I couldn’t deny it. And I knew I could no longer use the excuse that I hadn’t found that in person, because I hadn’t been looking for it.

    Thanks for sharing!

I love hearing from you!