Americans have recently come off of one of the most tumultuous Presidential elections in history. As a nation we witnessed first-hand, the anger, the division, and the misinformation of it all, spewed throughout our social media feeds.
Social Media has become oversaturated with political posts from both sides of the spectrum.
These posts cite everything from non-credible articles to non-credible You Tube videos. Or they cite television news sound bites that do not tell the entire story.
The brashness of political posts from family and friends have become a more difficult thing for many people to silently swallow.
Over the last four years, many of us have experienced or witnessed amongst “friends,” online arguing, unfriending, and even loss of IRL relationships due to the political posts that were being shared on social media.
This has become a disturbing trend in our society and it has made me think about a time when we would hear how talking about politics at the dinner table was considered impolite.
And it has now further made me wonder if talking about politics on social media should be considered impolite too?
Dinner table etiquette
When social media was first invented, it was created to be a platform that enabled users to create and share content in order to participate in social networking online.
Social networking is a form of interacting with others. It’s basically an engagement and exchange you have with people who typically share similar interests as you.
So now think of your personal social media page as your own home, but instead, it is your online home. It is a space where you have invited your family and friends inside of, so that they may interact with you.
Now ask yourself this, when you invite your friends over to dinner at your home, would you engage in a conversation with them at the dinner table that they may find offensive or uncomfortable? Most people would say they wouldn’t.
There is a certain form of dinner table etiquette one would follow when inviting guests over. Many people would agree that part of that etiquette is to not discuss topics like religion or politics with your guests.
Therefore, you as a Christian person, wouldn’t invite your Jewish friend over to your home for dinner and then say, “Jesus is the Son of God. I don’t care what you believe.”
In the same vein, you also would never invite your friend over to dinner who is a Biden supporter or a Trump supporter and then be rude to them by broadcasting your opposing views.
As their host, you most likely wouldn’t accuse them of being a Sheeple, a Pedophile supporter, or just a complete ignorant Racist because of who they are supporting as their candidate.
Yet this is exactly what is happening everyday on social media.
Our social media pages were created to engage and be social. However, instead of being social in person, like at a dinner party in our home, we are now being social online.
The guests that we have invited into our online space by “Friend Requests,” are now the guests in our own “online home.”
So why has it become acceptable to put political posts on social media, that friends from all walks of life will be exposed to as it comes through their feeds?
Especially knowing that we would never expose our friends to this same content in real life?
My assumption could be that like Cyber Bullying, it’s easy to be “brave” and spout-off one’s strong political beliefs, sitting alone, behind a device. However, is this really why it is happening?
Moreover, do people ever consider that just because it is being posted online, instead of being said directly to your friend’s face, that it still offends them just the same.
Changing your political beliefs
I have often wondered if people post their political beliefs on social media in hopes of changing their friends’ political beliefs? Although, in my observation, this never appears to get accomplished by doing that.
Or do people post their political beliefs to get cheered on by their likeminded friends? Perhaps, so that they can feel more justified in their own views?
By now, some of you may be considering that perhaps there should be a shift in our society’s acceptance in regards to posting about politics on social media. And that it could be rude to subject our family and friends to our political opinions.
Or you may be thinking that there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting political posts on your own social media page, and to think otherwise is censorship.
The debate about this could go on and on.
The “Just Scroll On By,” culture
Many people have heard of Cancel culture. It’s a pretty hot topic right now. However, have you heard of the Just scroll on by culture?
This is when people post their strongly opinionated political positions on social media. Then somewhere in that same post they tell their friends that if they don’t like what they are seeing from them, not to argue back, but to “Just scroll on by,” instead.
However, this circles back to how it would be considered rude to invite your friend over to your home for dinner, and then spout off your politics to them, which they may not agree with.
Would you expect your friend to just quietly sit there at the dinner table and take it from you? Or better yet, would you just quietly sit there and take it from them?
I believe not.
Dish it, Then take It
Your social media page is your online home and if you invited family and friends to be there, then they are there to engage with you. That is what puts the “social” in social media.
Family and friends are not there to have posts show up in their feeds, and then be told that they have to shut up about their opinions if they don’t agree with what you posted, because you posted it on your own page.
Therefore, if people want to dish it on social media, then people simply have to learn to take it on social media too.
So if you don’t agree with the possibility that posting about politics on social media might just be impolite, then that’s okay. However, it’s important to remember that the knife always cuts both ways, which in this case may result in online arguments, loss of relationships, and “unfriending” amongst family and friends.
Agree to disagree
It’s safe to say that everyone will have a differentiating opinion on whether or not posting about politics should be considered impolite or acceptable to do on social media. As the saying goes, everyone can agree to disagree.
However, the bottom line is that our social media experiences, unfortunately don’t only hinder on what we post, but also hinders on what comes through our feeds from our family and friends. So it’s something to think about and possibly consider before we post again in the near future.