October 26, 2016 by Paul Dughi
It’s not just you. The vast majority of people online today are “worn out” by the amount of political junk they see on social media. They’re stressed out by it and frustrated and they’ve learned they have less in common than they thought with some of their closest friends.
A study from The Pew Research Center validates those feelings. Nearly 40% of users have blocked or unfriended someone because of a political stance.
The tone of the political discussions are also at the center of those feelings. Perhaps it’s just mirroring the national dialogue we’re all seeing play out: Too often angry and disrespectful. Or maybe that’s just the nature of on-line commentary these days. I know a lot of my friends have moved completely away from Twitter because they are tired of being shouted down whenever they tweet anything.
Is it the medium itself that lends itself to that level of discourse or are there just that many more jerks out there these days – or just more people feeling comfortable sharing those opinions?
I know I’m tired of seeing people twist every story and post into a bash session for/against Clinton or Trump – especially when the story they are commenting on has nothing political about it.
It’s feeding a whole new group of trolls.
The Pew study shows that discussions online are less respectful compared to the other places people might discuss politics. Probably a lot less swear words, for sure. 53% say it’s less respectful, 49% less civil, and 51% less likely to come to a resolution. 49% say they’re angrier.
I mean, has a post every changed your mind on a political candidate?
What do you do when one of your friends posts something on their feed that you disagree with?
I don’t engage at all with it. In fact, I simply don’t post anything political – unless it’s a balanced news article or something that’s just plain funny. 83% of those surveyed say they ignore it. About a third say they’ve changed their setting to see fewer items from their friends and 27% have blocked or unfriended people completely.
Taken together, this amounts to 39% of social media users – and 60% of them indicate that they took this step (limiting or blocking friends comments or unfriending them) because someone was posting political content that they found offensive. – Pew Research
There’s something about sitting at a keyboard or on your phone. You feel somewhat anonymous – even when you’re not.
Maybe that’s why people say things online, by text, or in social media that they’d never say to someone’s face.
“Despite their negative view of the tone of political conversations on social media, some users view social media in a relatively positive light when it comes to facilitating engagement and involvement with political issues,” The Pew Research study concludes. “A total of eight-in-ten social media users feel that these platforms help users get involved with issues that matter to them either very (22%) or somewhat (57%) well, while a similar share feels that social media have helped bring new voices into the political discussion very (21%) or somewhat (53%) well.”
And that concludes my most political post this election year.