Social media has the power to alternate from amazing to annoying in literally a matter of seconds depending on what is going on in the world. I love social media; there is no question that I am addicted to it and I can admit that. Facebook was originally great to keep in touch with older friends and I joined twitter specifically to obtain sports news as it was released.
Social media transforms daily though, and so has my use of it. Facebook became more of a medium to “stalk” older friends rather than actually interact with them. It also became a forum to voice your opinions on anything and everything to your friends. I try to use it just for sports and things I find humorous, but as we hit election time, politics is easily the biggest component of it for most people. While this is annoying, I am at least connected to all of my facebook friends by a major interaction – we have met in real life (at least with 99% of my fb friends), conversed, and have some sort of shared experience. Therefore, I know what to expect around election time, and facebook includes a handy “Hide” button if I get really irritated.
|Oh Twitter, what have I lost you to?!|
Twitter is a much more difficult medium to manage. You follow people for a specific reason, but events like an election transform everyone’s twitter accounts into something you’ve never seen before. I first joined twitter looking for sports news, then made an effort to provide sports news, and continued on with it to the point that I have made friends over twitter. This led to the creation of a 2nd twitter account so the people who followed me for sports have the option to follow my other interests and personal life if they so choose, but they are not forced to deal with it if they only want sports. This is not how twitter usually works though.
The norm is one twitter account = every thought/feeling/piece of information possible from one person. It’s often wonderful until you start reading about the side of someone that you don’t want to know about, don’t care about, and never want to hear about again. For me, that side always involves politics.
I don’t hate politics; I am just indifferent to other people’s views of it. Your tweets will not change my mind about my thoughts and values. Your facebook statuses will not change my mind either. A well written blog, article, or report may change how I think and feel, but surely not character-limited messages.
Beyond that, many political posts on social media are inflammatory. Let’s face it, we all are on various social media sites to get involved in discussions, or get replies/favorites/retweets/likes/shares/etc. You don’t put a thought out there without wanting someone to read it and react to it. As such, election time appears to be perfect for people to throw out any sort of inflammatory statement to either be lauded as intelligent or strike up an argument.
|We're all doomed.|
While I’m indifferent to how other people view politics, I can’t help but get irritated with many of the comments I see from supporters of either side. Politics is no longer an intellectual debate about what is best for the country. Politics is a dirty, hair-pulling, slap fight where one side has to be better than the other side and also must be right all of the time. Often, what starts as an intellectual debate will turn into finger pointing about how the other side has screwed up or is wrong about something. These are not debates about making the country better. Sure, the debates are founded upon that principle and begin that way, but they devolve quickly into my candidate is better than yours, my party is better than yours, and now I’m better than you too because you’re an idiot just like your party and your candidate. This is especially rampant on twitter where thoughts are limited to 140 characters. Even when people aren’t arguing against each other on twitter, there are a plethora of subtweets created for the other side.
I realize not everyone is like this, there are many bright individual who do not act like this, but they also don’t spark debate nearly as frequently as well…so all of you are absolved. Now a slight transition off of social media and just to my view on politics if you care:
|This is not about Obama vs. Romney.|
This is about Obama OR Romney.
This country often takes a sports atmosphere to politics. It’s about winning and soundly defeating the opposition. It’s about being better than the other side. It’s about why this side is better than that side. The problem is, running the country is not a sport. When one side wins, they still need to care about the other side and the other side does not go home. The operation of the United States is not better off because one side won, or the other side one. It may trend better based on a certain candidate or party at any given time, but that is not what makes the country better. The US improves as all political parties and all political beliefs meld into policies and actions that benefit the country as a whole. No one is right all of the time and no one is wrong all of the time. This is a concept that is lost in politics though, and it is why I don’t get involved in political debates and why I don’t care about what anyone else may think about politics.
Back in 12th grade, my AP American Government teacher had us fill out our voter registration forms in class before we turned 18. As we filled them out, she left us with one lesson: Don’t truly define yourself by any affiliation because you will slowly give away your independent thought on various topics to that affiliation. I hated that class but that is a lesson I have held with me. Don’t label me a democrat or republican, liberal or conservative, etc. I will be what I need to be when the country needs that vote – sometimes it will be a liberal agenda, sometimes it will be a conservative agenda, but I will decide that every 4 years.
Honestly, I don’t truly care who wins this election. I just care that the country improves. In a month or so, I will do my due diligence research on the candidates and determine who I think will give this country the best opportunity to improve. At that point, I will not tell you about it, I will not tell you who I will vote for, but I will go perform my civic duty and vote on election day. No matter who wins, I will root for that candidate to fix everything possible about this country within his means. In four years, I will go through the same cycle.
One thing is for sure, I will never bother you with my political stances on twitter or facebook. I will just rant on my blog about how much I can’t stand people who do that.
PS – I’m well aware that political debate creates new ideas and fosters intelligent thinking. I am not opposed to any of that. I’m opposed to when it is done disrespectfully or in a closed-minded situation…which is most often the case. Honor everyone’s views as you would like yours to be treated.