A few weeks ago, I wrote this post. To give you the Reader’s Digest version, I basically ranted about my frustrations with people who post nasty, condescending political comments on Facebook.
While I still feel that way, I came across another frustration last night during the vice presidential debates – with the people who make a point to say they’re going to de-friend those people.
I promise I’m not making this an outlet on which to rant and rave but it really got me thinking about the role social media has in not only elections, but in how we interact and respond to one another. Four years ago, we were all on Facebook; probably not all on Twitter except for nerds like me, but definitely Facebook. I can’t remember all this bigotry and negative commentary that we’re seeing today. But not only that, I can’t remember people getting up and arms over people who DO choose to post political thoughts.
As you can tell, I feel very torn by this and I definitely do not think it is right when comments are harsh, rude or condescending. BUT at the same time, is this not the point of social media? To disseminate information, start a conversation and engage with others? To me, writing an educated and informed status about politics (that is not condescending, mind you) is much more responsible than posting a drunk photo of yourself from the weekend, which let’s admit it, a lot of people do (I am equally as guilty of this on occasion).
It was funny, during the presidential candidate debate last week, I posted my thoughts and opinions on the issues (respectfully) on Twitter. What I received from that was a backlash of commentary saying I was going to be “de-friended” and to “shut up” with “annoying political comments.” So last night I decided to go another route and NOT post about the issues. So since I was in a good mood, I made a light-hearted post about the fact that Biden is a cute, older man and Ryan is easy on the eyes. What I got from THAT were comments back from a few people about how my status was shallow and I should “not vote” unless I talk about the issues. Ummm, clearly I can’t win here. (Maybe I should just shut up and say nothing, but that’s not really my style. Sorry, not sorry.)
This summer, the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) conducted a survey questioning 3,000 young people, ages 15-25, on how they use the Internet, social media and engage in politics. What they found was large numbers of young people across many different racial and ethic groups are engaging in “participatory politics.” This may include a political group online, circulating a blog about a political issue or forwarding political videos to friends. Joseph Kahne, professor of education at Mills College, made a good point:
“Anyone who cares about democracy needs to pay attention to this important dimension of politics for young people — participatory politics spread information, mobilize individuals to act, and provide many ways for youth to voice their perspectives,” he said in a ScienceDaily article.
Exactly. But this doesn’t come without consequences. He continued,
“But there are challenges. These politics also spread misinformation, and they may promote voice more than influence.”
Either way, we’re not going to win this one. In my opinion (and not that I have any special klout to give my opinion but I’m going to anyways), I think we all need to just step up and take some responsibility and have some maturity. For those who choose to post, keep it respectful and be prepared for possible backlash. For those who choose not to, don’t take your time to say you’re going to de-friend them, that is equally as disrespectful. Block them from your feeds or just choose to ignore. We all utilize social media differently and we all have different opinions about the upcoming election. Just…deal with it.
What are your thoughts on the matter?