Saturday, March 5, 2016

Social Media and Politics: Soap Box or Silence?



It's that time of year again when your Facebook feed and Twitter roll gets inundated with post after post condemning candidates in one political party or praising those in another.

I've posted the occasional political cartoon and meme: Hillary tweeting dark thoughts in her dark glasses; The Donald being The Donald. Many would argue it was with the intent to influence or persuade. I maintain it's because it made me chuckle, but political commentary on social media has become no laughing matter.

Outrageous comments expressing our views to anyone who listen.are what social media is for, right? Our candidates do it so why shouldn't we? It sure is tempting to share that observation you heard on the drive into work, that statistic you read online, that funny meme that lambastes that candidate you've never trusted, so why hold back? It's your page to rule. Delete those posts and opinions that you find outrageous and promote the ones that champion your cause. Tell your friend from grade school about what FOX News said, what NPR debunked. Argue, make your case, unfriend and delete those who disagree.

No. Just no.

As US citizens, we are encouraged to publicly express our opinions - freely and openly. Endorsements and contributions let you know where some major corporations stand.  And often many of those personal and corporate opinions are ugly, frightful, even dangerous. But it's part of the process.

The problem is that the lines between interactions among friends and family, and political discourse, have been wrongly intertwined through social media. Before the Internet, we voted privately in a booth then went back to our daily lives. We supported candidates at rallies, then returned to school and work.

Soap Box or Silence: for me neither works when it comes to social media. The world hasn't gone crazy. It's gone digital making it easier to see the lunacy but also the humanity. Which ultimately, is a change towards the positive. But regardless of which side you're on, everyone could use a healthy dose of civility and sensibility regardless of political leanings.




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