Opinion

Social Media, Politics, and Why They Don’t Mix

As social media expands, so does our ability to share beliefs, opinions, and ideas. In a digital age, we often turn to technology to allow ourselves to express what we want changed in the world. This is prevalent in current politics, as well as in our news. As we scroll through the feed of our social media accounts, it’s not hard to find political posts.

Within my own life, I have many friends that are very comfortable sharing their opinions about politics, whether it be face to face or online. During the 2016 presidential election, there was a constant barrage of arguments, opinions, and fake facts that were presented as truth. I could hardly scroll through Facebook without seeing an article screaming of candidates’ past  scandals, lies, and deceit.

I have absolutely no issue with the expression of feelings, but the manner it is done in on social media is often extremely aggressive. A majority of the posts I see about politics seem to convey the message, “I am right, you are wrong, and if you have literally any variation from what I believe about [insert current issue], you are the reason America is screwed.” This irritates me for many, many reasons, but especially because America was built upon the belief that different opinions and/or ideas create a better and more functional society. The first amendment was placed into the Constitution because of this ideology, and has allowed us to be able to speak our minds without repression.

Although we do get to determine what we say, we don’t get to determine how people will react to it, or the consequences. There is often a blurry line between using your freedom of speech and long-instilled societal boundaries. However, there is a pronounced difference between using your free speech to try to effectively create change and to shame people for their own beliefs.

Another one of my issues with political posts is that they rarely create the opportunity for change. Many of them are heavily biased, especially with current issues. If you post something political, there will be those who agree with you, and those who disagree. This rarely creates the opportunity for real discussion, as people’s personal bias and opinions often get the better of them when their beliefs are challenged. I see posts with over a million comments as people argue about an issue, but refuse to come up with new solutions or actually do something to create a difference. It’s frustrating for everyone involved, and ineffective.

The term ‘filter bubble’ was coined in 2010 by Eli Pariser. It’s the state of mind where we create bubbles for ourselves, as we flock to people with the same opinions as us while blocking out those who differ. It’s easy to see the effects of these self-created barriers in our own lives. People are often so wrapped up in their own opinions, they refuse to even acknowledge or listen to others.  

When I was younger, I was able to see the world in black and white.  I assumed that my parents were correct about their stances on all issues, because of their life experiences and age. As I’ve grown and developed my own opinions, I realized that the entirety of life is made up of various shades of gray. Having grown up in various places, I have been able to see and hear the varying of opinions about issues in different regions. I’ve lived in areas on both sides of the spectrum of current politics, and it has allowed me to firmly cement my own beliefs.

Although our generation is flawed in many ways (as all generations are), I love the fact that we are refusing to follow what society tells us is acceptable. Not only are we calling for change, but we are eliciting it. We are creating ripples and are working to find solutions. Even within our own school, we are able to see the influence we have. A lot of things can be said about us, but the fact that we are fighting for what we believe is monumental.

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