Red equal signs and more: Does the gay marriage debate belong on Facebook?

ssorich@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 27, 2013 

You’ve probably seen Facebook users change their profile photos to the Human Rights Campaign’s red equal sign in support of gay marriage. Is Facebook an appropriate forum for the gay marriage debate?

Some people argue Facebook should be an escape from divisive conversation topics. Others say discussing those topics on Facebook adds a purpose to a social media space that’s lacked depth beyond FarmVille.

There's clearly a difference between posting a simple logo and sharing a long political rant. But even when it lacks words, the logo reflects your stance on a divisive topic and is likely to attract at least one follow-up comment.

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily.

Facebook has evolved into more than a midday distraction. It's become a critical component of our social and professional lives, and preventing an intersection of politics and social media simply isn't feasible. Plus, I kind of like elevating Facebook's purpose beyond sparkly engagement rings.

But if you're going to have your Facebook page reflect your stance on gay marriage -- or any hotly debated social issue -- it's important to remember a few things.

For starters, don't jump on the newest awareness campaign without having an actual position. Blindly re-posting the newest "thing" means nothing if you can't explain why you feel passionately about the issue. Campaigns generally thrive when supporters are familiar with the facts surrounding issue at the debate's center.

By jumping on board without knowing WHAT you're supporting and WHY you're supporting it, you're hindering efforts to move the dialogue forward.

Also, if you publicly state your position on a divisive issue, you must acknowledge the positive and negative feedback you'll receive.

You can't put a potentially controversial stance on Facebook and expect all your friends to immediately sing your praises. Publicizing your position on one of these issues should theoretically be about initiating a conversation, not establishing an empire where everyone hits "like" in submission.

Now, it's your turn. Tell me what you think.

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