I think it was around the presidential debates when my Facebook newsfeed overflowed with political comments and status updates, supporting either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. And on the Election Day, my social media newsfeed was flooded with pictures of people with their little “I Voted” pins and ballots and status updates urging others to vote as well. There’s no denial that social media played a big role in the Elections. People were constantly tweeting, updating their statuses, and posting photos of their candidates all over the Internet. This article in Huffington Post written by Bianca Bosker, examines the role of social media during the Elections and questions if social media is “narrowing” our beliefs and our perspective. I think this idea of having a personalized newsfeed goes back to the idea of public displays of connection discussed by boyd and Donath. Through social media, we create an online network where we tend to follow and befriend those who share similar values and ideologies. And because everyone has their own customized and personalized newsfeed on social media, people are limited to just information that they like and support.
To be honest, being an international student without any right to vote, I didn’t follow the Elections too much. But, Obama supporters dominated my newsfeed, since most of my friends were democrats. And when a Republican supporter popped up once in a while, I remember being surprised in noticing that there are a lot Republicans out there. My Republican ‘friend’ posted lengthy posts supporting Romney almost everyday and as a result, she got many angry replies and comments from her Democrat ‘friends’ that she disappeared on Facebook for a while. Observing this, I think the article’s argument is valid. Social media sites are set up so that we can “pick and choose” what we want to see and read. Especially during the elections, I think it is this property that created a divide between Democrats and Republicans. Being so saturated in their own personalized newsfeed, I think people were surprised to see someone with such different opinions and just disregarded it to be ignorant and unacceptable. Everyone has different opinions on everything – this won’t change. It’s just up to us to not lose our ability to see things objectively.