FriendFeed and Politics

October 27, 2008 — 16 Comments

Blue.

That’s not just the logo color of FriendFeed, it’s also the political slant.

Blue though in the US sense, not the rest of the world, where blue is actually the conservative color.

Mark Rizzn Hopkins announced Friday that he’d had enough and was quitting FriendFeed. The reaction was mostly negative.

I don’t agree with the criticism. If I was Mark, I would have quit sooner.

Mark did make one mistake though: the reason he gave in his post wasn’t a good one. The Obama birth certificate story was being pushed by an anti-semitic loon that a good number of hard right-wing sites had disowned. It had also been disproved many, many times. But hey, sometimes we call it wrong, and not everyone knows all the facts leading up to it. Hell, could have been me making the wrong call there. The Obama birth certificate story polluted Mark’s general issue, which is a shame, so lets ignore it.

Politics on FriendFeed has gotten nasty at times, and even stupid. Most of the nasty stuff did start on the right, at least among the threads I followed or posted. I even blocked a few people along the way. But finger pointing in one direction isn’t fair when it should go in both directions, because some of those preaching intolerance can be intolerant themselves.

Then there’s this really weird…or should I say stupid hate the rich meme that’s come up of late, driven in part by Alex Scoble. If you ever wanted to prove that Obama supporters are socialists, read Alex’s stuff. Dumb stuff, like the rich are only rich because they already have money, and should be taxed so they are equal, or people shouldn’t be allowed to make interest on money because that’s not a productive use of money.

Scary stuff, and far to the left.

I shouldn’t generalize because most people are reasonable, it’s just sometimes they get caught up in a myopia of thought that they can’t see the middle line.

Here’s a great endorsement for Obama today from FT.com. Middle line, explains the weaknesses but argues why on the balance he’s the better candidate. Similar message we’ve heard from some on the right who have endorsed him as well. These are arguments I can relate to, and many people in the middle will as well.

The thing is, it’s wrong that Mark felt the need to quit FriendFeed; not wrong that he did it, but wrong that people couldn’t be more accommodating of his point of view and he felt his only recourse was to quit.

I don’t agree with Mark on everything, but we agree on far more than we disagree. I nearly unsubscribed from his Google Reader shares last week because he shares and reads the same stuff I do. I know for example that his leanings are Libertarian (like mine), but he’s a little clouded by the socialist rhetoric pointed at Obama. If I was 10 years younger I know I would have made the same calls Mark does.

Don’t lynch Mark for his decision. Consider it an opportunity to improve your discourse and respect towards others. Yes, some on the hard right go over board, but you will always be better placed taking the high moral ground of civility in response. And remember, the truth is sometimes in the middle.

16 responses to FriendFeed and Politics

  1. Duncan, I wrote this on Rizzn's blog too but I've steered clear from political exchanges (as much as possible), since I already felt the tension, judging and negativity during the primaries. Time and time again, it was a no win situation. When I questioned a policy, plan, or quote from O, I was automatically a racist or feminist. If I questioned Hillary, I was an anti-feminist… and here I thought I was just asking questions — like I would with any candidate.

    As for Rizzn's departure, I truly don't blame him. I have seen many many NASTY personal attacks aimed at him. Truly unfortunate and disheartening. Thanks for this post… you basically summed up what I've been wanting to say WAY more eloquently than I could have haha.

  2. Funny, there's a LOT of comments coming in over on FriendFeed about this article: http://friendfeed.com/e/0b7ce429-5392-5781-c2d8

  3. “And remember, the truth is sometimes in the middle.”

    Amen.

    I try not to take much notice of anyone who leans too far to the left or the right, because it's an indication that they have stopped listening to any opposing arguments; that they no longer have any doubt about their beliefs — and that's dangerous territory.

  4. Oh boo fucking hoo Duncan. Mark has been just fine bashing lefties all over the map the past eight years. I'm so tired of the “I've had it with this! I'm QUITTING!” crap. It's all about the dramz and not wanting to hear people disagreeing with you. Everyone is hoping to become the subject of blog posts like this one and get more attention. If you are going to quit, then actually do it without the big finale for the attention and I might take you seriously. Otherwise, I know you'll be back in a few weeks spouting the same old stuff as always. From this point forward, all those quitting for dramz are an instant block. If you don't like conflict, get off the freaking Internet.

  5. This is one of those weird situations where I find myself agreeing with Duncan and Mona (who voice similar views) but also with Cyndy, who has a very different view.

    I'm not a particular fan of cliques or of mob mentality, both of which are likely to show up anywhere lots of people aggregate (Internet, FriendFeed). I don't blame FriendFeed for this, I blame people 🙂 FriendFeed is just particularly good at aggregating discussion. It showcases people both at their best, and their worst, which sometimes includes nasty personal attacks. It is unfortunate, but it also just seems to be the nature of the beast.

    But I'm also with Cyndy on at least two points. I share her bias that If you're going to quit, just stop participating. Don't make a big production over it. Just stop. And I also agree that if some of what you like to discuss are heated, polarizing topics, you must prepare for and accept that the consequences won't always be pretty.

  6. Great article except I strongly disagree with your assertion that most of the nasty stuff is coming from the right. Later in the article you say “Yes, some on the hard right go over board.” From my point of view as a conservative I see just as much nasty stuff coming from the left. There is no validity as far as I can tell about most of it coming from the right. I have pretty much given up on political discussions on Friendfeed because there is almost always someone who instantly resorts to personal attacks .

  7. Ummm.. isn't this how any discussion on politics plays out? Why would Friendfeed be any different than getting into it on Twitter, a blog, or even Digg/Youtube comments.

    I'm not cool with nastiness either way, but this is how it has worked for quite some time now.

  8. Michael,
    fair call. It was a combination of gut feeling based on what I've seen, but obviously I don't see all of it. No matter which way its coming from though, the premise still holds.

  9. Duncan – bummer that you didn't link to Alex Scoble's “dumb stuff” comments and he didn't link here in his follow-up rant. Weakens both your opinions about what you think the other person said (or means) when readers aren't provided a source link.

    To help other readers, here is Alex FriendFeed comment (at least I think it is): http://friendfeed.com/e/748d6d9e-614f-43a4-8578

  10. I wish to wish all pregnant women of good mood, easy pregnancy and natural sorts!
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  11. You?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢re really thankful for this post, I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ve been really enjoying checking up your posts from time to time. Looking forward to see your future posts!!

  12. You’re really thankful for this post, I’ve been really enjoying checking up your posts from time to time. Looking forward to see your future posts!!

  13. You’re really thankful for this post, I’ve been really enjoying checking up your posts from time to time. Looking forward to see your future posts!!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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    […] Having read the reason why a couple of times, I don’t fully get why he’s quitting: I take it that he’s not happy with the shift in content on FriendFeed, and some of the related conversation, but the decision seems extreme to me, but so did Mark Rizzn Hopkins leaving, and I get why that happened. […]

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