Heated political arguments, broken relationships. Is it really necessary?

On election night, my Facebook newsfeed blew up with countless status updates on President Obama’s re-election. Every time I would refresh the page, there would be another load of them, and it continued like that for the rest of the night. Some statuses were inspired by Obama’s victory and were very supportive of his re-election. However, there were also one’s that were blatantly upset about the turn of events. “I’m moving to _________ (another country apart from the U.S.)” was a common status that was posted by Romney supporters. The night of the election, this was the topic that got the most attention on social media platforms. People were very passionate about their political views, and would voice them very publicly and uncensored on their networks.

In her article, “With election over, time to mend social-media fences in real life” Megan Finnerty discusses how some real-life relationships were broken and in need of repair due to heated arguments that would ensue on social media. Finnerty quotes Karen North, the University of Southern California’s Annenburg School for Communication and Journalism, saying “‘People can be much more strident online because they’re not seeing or hearing the social cues that they would receive if they were in person’”. When someone posts political opinions on public profiles, those who disagree will often comment their own opinions that go against what is being said. Sometimes these conflicting perspectives were just accepted as differences, but there were definitely situations where people would back-to-back comment with rude and degrading remarks fighting one another about their political stances. These online arguments would transfer to real-life settings where individuals would not speak to each other because they were annoyed with what had happened online the night before. I have personally experienced this among friends during this election. It just creates a very awkward and uncomfortable situation, which is so unnecessary.

I believe everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and should be able to say what they want to, but it bothers me that people choose to disrespect others values and opinions on something so public. It is understandable that people are very adamant about their political standing; however, these opinions should not be a reason to break the relationship among close ties. Individuals have more nerve to say things online because there is no one regulating what they say, and they can choose to reply to or ignore responses coming back at them. However, people also need to be mindful of the fact that they are posting something publicly so that everyone can see; therefore, they have to expect that responses they receive will not always be what they want to hear. It seems somewhat unreasonable to get so angry when there is always the potential of flaming to occur on anything opinionated posted on social media networks, especially something as sensitive as politics.  At the end of the day, the results cannot be altered, so people should not invest so much negative energy into trying to make a point and sacrificing their relationships; being optimistic and hopeful for the future of our country should be the main focus.

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