Facebook – There’s nothing social about social media

facebook_logo_-_Google_SearchBy David Nelson, CFA

The year is 1970. The United States is in the middle of an unpopular war, Kent State is fresh in our minds, Janis Joplin is found dead from a heroin overdose and U.S. markets are entering a decade that financial professionals still with us would like to forget.

…Evolution, revolution, gun control, the sound of soul,
Shootin’ rockets to the moon, kids growin’ up too soon
Politicians say more taxes will solve ev’rything, and the band played on.
Round and round and round we go, where the world’s headed nobody knows.
Great googa-mooga, can’t you hear me talkin’ to you, just a Ball of Confusion

the_temptations_ball_of_confusion_-_Google_SearchThe lyrics from the Temptation’s 1970 hit song Ball of Confusion not only summed up the decade that was unfolding but speaks to the fears mounting today across the financial and political divide.

If Facebook (FB) is a measure of our civility and caring then we’re in a world of hurt. Even the family unit is threatened as brothers & sisters identify not with who we are and love but who we voted for in the last election.

Today, Facebook is the modern day town square replacing the deli, general store and mall as a place to share stories, baby pictures and birthday greetings. However, with each passing year since its launch in 2004 Facebook has morphed into a digital ghetto filled with graffiti streaming across your laptop or mobile phone.

negative_posts_on_facebook_-_Google_SearchDaily we use Facebook too toss political hand grenades into the social media yard next door. Usually the weapon of choice is a repost of a story or picture often put together by political operatives whose only goal is to drive home the soundbite of the day. There’s usually just enough accuracy to create the illusion of legitimate news but in the end truth rarely lives on the extremes. As usual it often lies somewhere in the middle.

The posts are designed to enrage not engage someone in a conversation. It generally has the same effect as walking next door and shooting your neighbor’s dog with a 45. You get the response you hoped for and before you know it, you can cross another friend or relative off the list. Suddenly we learn there’s nothing social about social media.

Every now and then something happens that forces us to take off our political mask and embrace our friends, neighbors and loved ones. 911 was of course one of those moments as the shock of a nation grieving and vulnerable pulled us together realizing our differences were overshadowed by what we had in common.

Representatives Paul Ryan & Nancy Pelosi at Baseball Game

Last week for brief moment in time even the most partisan of our nation, Congressional leaders embraced each other following the attempted assassination of GOP congressmen getting ready for a charity baseball game with their colleagues across the aisle.

The standing ovation following House Speaker Paul Ryan’s message “an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us” along with the gracious speech by former speaker and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi presented the nation with an opportunity to look in the mirror.

Segregation, determination, demonstration,
Integration, aggravation,
Humiliation, obligation to our nation

Ball of Confusion – The Temptations

Hate is the nuclear option. We’ve run out of all arguments and reason and the only course left is MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). As a nation, is this is the path we chose?

You can support gun control but do we have to HATE those who oppose it. You can oppose abortion but do we need to HATE those who believe it is the right of a woman to choose. We can fight against the policies of the opposition party but must we HATE our neighbors on the other side of the political aisle.

Media outlets are running segments pointing to signs in the wake of the Alexandria Virginia tragedy that congress could tone down the rhetoric and move forward in a spirt of cooperation focusing on something more than I win you lose politics. If Facebook is any measure of our ability to come together than that spirit of detente has already come and gone.

This is our wakeup call and the prevailing challenge of a nation rapidly approaching the point of no return. Our enemies are watching.

Great googa-mooga can’t you hear me talking to you, just a ball of confusion.