Milwaukee Public Schools psychologist Jessica Coyle was in tears after reading a cousin's Facebook post calling public employees "whores and a bunch of other nasty things," according to her husband, David, an MPS history teacher. "What made matters worse was that her godmother 'liked' the comment," Coyle told a reporter.Indeed, it is sad. So much for Barack Obama, The Great Uniter.
"My wife sent a message to say, 'Hey, remember me, your family member, I am a public employee and I am not a whore.' Her intention was for the cousin to say, 'Oops, sorry, I forgot,' or something along those lines. He didn't. He only said, 'That is how I feel, you can defriend me if you want.' "
The couple couldn't believe how the governor's proposed budget-repair bill was playing out in the virtual community of Facebook, David Coyle said. "We thought that blood was thicker than water. Guess not."
Intensely personal, divisive debates have taken over Facebook in recent weeks, with paychecks, pensions and union rights on the line. The social graces and filtering of opinions that normally temper face-to-face conversations don't necessarily apply to Facebook, where comments can be deleted and friends can be "unfriended" or "hidden" if they cross the line of civility.
Friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers linger in cyber communities at all hours of the day and night, sharing links to opinion pieces, videos, newspaper articles and their own blogs to inform the conversation and persuade others to agree with them.
When Democratic senators fled Wisconsin to stall the vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill a week ago, Daryle Wooley of Elkhorn posted on Facebook that the senators should either return or be fired. "Democracy is 24-7; not just when it's something you're in favor of," he wrote.
Within hours, responses came flooding in from Facebook friends around the country, "including some people who were very close to me," Wooley recalled. "I couldn't believe the tone."
He responded to critics, explaining that he had to cash in his IRA and take out a second mortgage on his house just to keep his cast limestone manufacturing business afloat. He told them: "This is the real world. You don't understand pain. If my wife wouldn't have gotten a new job, my health insurance would have gone away. I'm down from 33 employees to three."
Several private e-mail conversations defused the conflict with Facebook friends, but he won't forget it, he said.
"Three weeks ago, we were all one happy family with the Packers," Wooley said. "And now we're all at each other's throats. This is ripping us apart. It's sad."
"Facebook is scary," said Lobacz, who works in the health care industry. "I don't think I've ever seen anything as polarizing as this on Facebook, and it's gotten ugly. . . . I completely feel everyone should have a right to voice an opinion, but when you stoop to calling people 'stupid' and question their education level, that crosses the line," she said.The left lost all civility decades ago. After pretending they wanted civility following the Arizona shootings in early January, we've seen and endless orgy of hate coming from their side. Had the right and tea party members been one-hundredth as uncivil we'd be seeing video running 24/7 on the networks. Instead, the violence and uncivil behavior of union thugs around the nation is largely ignored. That merely feeds the beast. That's what they want. And as we now enter an 18-month presidential campaign cycle, it'll only becomes worse.
"This is such a hot-button issue, people have lost all civility," said Lobacz, of Waukesha. "They've forgotten how to be nice. The protesters in Madison have been more polite than my Facebook friends."
A lot worse.
As if you needed a reminder:
And now even more civility.
Try and grasp the arrogance and ignorance on display in that video. There's just no reaching these people.