Opinion: How Facebook hurt my feelings

Opinion: How Facebook hurt my feelings

I admit I am a Facebook junkie.

Editor’s Note: The Empire is publishing a weekly column from the nonpartisan League of Women Voters leading up to this year’s municipal election, in the hopes that it will help inform voters about the process. Stay tuned for the next column in next Wednesday’s paper.

Okay, I admit I am a Facebook junkie. I get news from posts that originated with reliable media sources and can also watch the Stephen Colbert opening monologue in the morning the day after. And I pride myself on my growing ability to identify trolling bot “people” and marvel at the sameness of “their” responses.

But I have also had my feelings hurt when I tried to make what seemed to me sane comments. Let me provide some examples. I recently tuned in to find that No Labels had a running poll on whether a certain Congressman should run for the Speaker of the House. No Labels started as an effort to get away from political party labeling, a positive move actually. So I proceeded to vote, explaining my vote with the suggestion that we need elected officials who can compromise and not be ruled by rigid ideologies. Well, that did not sit well with some, despite the comment’s five “likes.” Fellow Facebookies, you know what I mean. A man I will call Dick immediately responded: “What is his rigid ideology? You don’t even know what you are talking about.” He (I am imaging here) admired his comment for a minute, found it lacking, and then added a second comment: “Go back to bed old lady. It’s almost dinner time.” Actually I was just having breakfast, but I did respond with one example of rigid thinking on this candidate’s part. Unfortunately that wasn’t to the liking of the next commenter I will call Bertie: “no compromise please … we have had nothing but backing down with compromise … get back dem … we don’t want you.” Well, so much for No Labels. But I am in awe of Dick and Bertie’s use of the Ad Hominem logical fallacy.

The Ad Hominem attack on the person — name calling, mudslinging — relieves the commenter from having to defend his/her position. Mounting a credible defense requires some facts and hard thinking. It is easier to cry “old woman,” “dirty socialist,” “Nazi,” or “fascist” rather than taking the time to research an issue and determine a defense with credible information. What Dick was trying to do was avoid thinking by insulting me instead.

Facebook commenters abuse logic with more than personal attacks. They are also guilty of using an either-or-approach in defending their positions. After recently writing a comment on the need for fair immigration laws and compassion for those seeking asylum, I was told by a Facebook commenter that if I didn’t like the way things were being done, I should move to another country. I was given only two options when in fact there is at least one other option — to make things better by advocating for change. And that advocacy can have many facets — running for office, lobbying elected officials with emails and phone calls (always polite), registering voters and voting oneself. In a democracy, this is the expectation — to curve the arc of justice in the fairest direction.

Another way to avoid the hard work of thinking is an appeal to emotion through the use of religion, patriotism, fear, love, anger and authority. In the 2016 election cycle, Russian cyberspies ran an ad/image on Facebook of a line of border patrol agents in uniform mounted on horses on a flat, grassy plain with bolts of lightning splitting the sky behind them. The top heading said “Don’t Mess With TX Border Patrol” and the bottom “Always Guided By God.” The photo, in sepia tones, accented the bolts of lightning and the white hats of the agents. The image was preceded by several paragraphs of narrative about “dangerous immigrants.” This ad hit all the emotional buttons of an appeal to emotion. The white-hatted border patrol are the authority to be trusted, a pure authority devoted to God. As guards against “dangerous” immigrants they are showing their patriotism by protecting those who are afraid of the Other.

We continue to hear that cyberspies are at it again. We must read carefully and widely and be alert for logical fallacies. Only three fallacies are mentioned here; there are many more out there. Research and then practice identifying them in advertising, conversations, and, most importantly, political news from both sides of the political spectrum. And vote!


• Judy Andree is a member of the League of Women Voters Juneau. My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.


More in Opinion

Web
Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

A person departs Bartlett Regional Hospital on July 26, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The importance of a strong, independent community hospital

Juneau’s city-owned Bartlett Regional Hospital (BRH) is in the news, presenting our… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: Disappointed by JAHC director’s opposition to Ship-Free Saturdays

As a member of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, I was… Continue reading

Juneau residents pack a room at the downtown public library for a June 6 meeting of Eaglecrest Ski Area’s board of directors. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Eaglecrest unplugged

Serving on a board or commission is hard work and that service… Continue reading

Downtown Juneau in late October of 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Mitigating the loss of tax revenue from cruise ship free Saturdays

The cruise ship free Saturday initiative presents us with a modified lesson… Continue reading

Leaders at Bartlett Regional Hospital listen to comments from residents during a forum Monday about proposed cuts to some services. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
My Turn: Bartlett board faces challenges

Once upon a time, Alaska’s capital had a well-run municipal hospital, but… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: SEARHC’s goals seem likely to limit, rather than expand, health options in Juneau

Max Mertz’s comments at the Bartlett Regional Hospital public forum about SEARHC’s… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Letter: Allow locals to have their town back once a week during the summer

Perhaps Nate Vallier shrugs when he sees eagles and bears (My Turn,… Continue reading

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30. (Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

“Alaska Republicans back Trump after historic conviction in hush money case,” the… Continue reading

A Carnival cruise ship is berthed Juneau’s cruise ship docks during the summer of 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Ignoring the consequences of ship-free Saturdays?

Backers of a cruise initiative to block large cruise ships from docking… Continue reading

Two skiers settle into a lift chair as they pass trees with fresh snow at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Dec. 20, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: Eaglecrest Ski Area attempting to do too much without sensible leadership

Ever wonder what the 50-year-old clearcut above the beginner slopes at Eaglecrest… Continue reading

Juneau School District administrators and board members listen to a presentation about the district’s multi-million deficit during a Jan. 9 meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
My Turn: School board recall not a cure for ‘failure to thrive’

Decline happens over time. Kinda like the way we gain weight and… Continue reading