Social Media and the Upcoming Election


The next Presidential Election looms in front of us, in the not-so-distant future.  President Barack Obama is coming to the end of his term as President of the United States, and will surrender the reins to his successor in January of 2017.  What this means for America is a fresh perspective, new policies, and possible answers to much-asked questions.  What it means for humans, especially Facebook users, is the spewing of political rhetoric all over the internet.  There is no escape, so buckle down and bear it for the next year and some change.

Every four years in the country, we elect a new President, or re-elect the current one.  The second article of the Constitution was the initial mention of the four year rule, and then the twenty-second amendment promised that a President would serve no more than two consecutive terms.  Many have cried for a change to this policy, but as of yet, there has been no change.  So basically, this means that every four years, we have to deal with a barrage of idiocy via the web.  In reality, we have about two and a half years of peace, until campaign season starts all over again.

We live in a country founded on the ability to have our own opinions, and express them freely.  However, all too often we are found hiding behind the freedom of speech, as we spew hate speech, and spread vicious rumors across social media.  For those who frequent social media channels, this can be quite a bit of a downer during the day to day, but there are ways to get around the vitriol, and embrace social media once again.  Short of avoidance, altogether, there are few options to not become a party to petty arguments.

First, and this is my favorite recommendation, is to unfollow.  Most people are unaware that the unfollow option exists.  This does not mean that you sever your virtual friendship with a person, but it does mean you don’t have to see what they’re posting every time you turn around.  If you have a particularly mouthy friend that can’t seem to get their facts straight about politics, the best way to avoid them is to unfollow them.  This does, however, mean that you will miss their other status updates, but if these updates are important to you, you can always journey over to their page, and check things out.

Another option, in irreconcilable situations, is to unfriend the person.  As a friend, I don’t expect for people to always agree with me, in fact, I enjoy people that have a little bit of fight in them and can make an educated argument about their beliefs.  It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I change my mind, based on an excellent and irrefutable argument.  Then there are the people that argue just to argue.  They are bitter or unhappy in other areas of their lives, and take to the public to spread their message of ignorance.  For me, the unfriend button is used when people use offensive language, are personally insulting, or I become the subject of their fear-laden rants.  It’s not a fun thing to do, but sometimes it is the only option.

Third, in extreme cases, there is the option to block the Facebook user.  I say this extreme, because it basically makes it look as though you’ve never existed on Facebook, and can cause some drama in your social circles.  For instance, you block Jimmy, Jimmy says something to Katie about you, and Katie says you just posted something cool on Facebook.  After that, Jimmy pulls up his Facebook on his phone, and can’t see that you even have a profile.  Commence drama.  If Jimmy is enough of a jerk to warrant a Facebook block, he’s enough of one to confront you in person.  Be prepared to back up your block if this is the route you take.

The final option, and this is not to be taken lightly, is to report the person to Facebook.  This is not an instance in which you don’t like something someone is saying, but this is when you’re being very personally attacked, threatened with bodily harm, or you’ve become the enemy of an angry mob, simply because you’ve disagreed.  If someone calls you a jerk, don’t report them.  However, if someone calls you a racial slur, threatens to kill you, or is making claims that they’ll be doing something drastic to harm others, reporting them to Facebook is the best and only option.  All too often, people have ignored what they believed to be idle threats, and regretted it at a later date.

When we’re in public, it’s easy to ignore people’s political babble.  We can put our earbuds in our ears, crank our music up, and pass them by.  We can smile and nod, and walk away at the first possible chance, and we can just refuse to be around that person until the election passes.  Social media makes it more difficult than actual human interaction, however, because people tend to be a little bit more outspoken when they’re not looking in your eyes.  Facebook has given everyone a soapbox, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen.  When you’re considering any of these options though, make sure you’re not the one that needs to be silenced.