USA Terrain People of a certain age may remember a time when we were taught this polite conversation … [+]
Rather than being the fun Christmas season, this December feels like a veritable “winter of discontent” on social media, with those on both sides of the political corridor digging themselves into the ground using the platforms to exchange messages and express opinions that the confirm how little chance there is of national reconciliation.
Many supporters of President-elect Joe Biden went on Twitter with the hashtag #TrumpIsACompleteFailure this week and shared memes that ranged from slightly humorous to downright vivacious. They were not gracious in victory.
With them was Scott Dworkin (@funder), co-founder of the Democratic Coalition and podcast host, who tweeted: “Trump left the Oval Office when asked about the inauguration during a Medal of Freedom ceremony. So embarrassing and utterly pathetic. #TrumpIsACompleteFailure “
While the tweet had a valid point regarding the president’s handling of the Medal of Freedom ceremony, the inclusion of the hashtag shows that hatred continues to be heightened on both sides.
The comments from President Trump’s supporters were equally vicious and the hashtag #BidenWasNotElected has made the rounds along with # BidenCheated2020 and #DemocratsAreCorrupt.
People of a certain age may remember a time when we were taught that polite conversation wasn’t about religion or politics – or maybe even sports franchises if you lived in certain cities. Today, however, social media has allowed everyone to express their opinion and not at all in a good way.
Everyone now shares their opinion, and often it is reinforced by others who need that desire – even craving – to post, tweet, share, and retweet things that they probably wouldn’t tell strangers. Social media has allowed, and even worse, encouraged everyone to share their political opinions.
“It’s a difficult dilemma,” said Charles King, technology industry analyst at Pund-IT.
“Beliefs tend to follow or depend on reinforcement, and in the pre-Internet era, many people’s beliefs tended to match those in their families and communities,” added King.
“Today it is possible to find numerous individuals and groups online who reinforce extremist views of all kinds,” warned King. “Social media platforms deserve some blame for broadening these views, but they’re not entirely to blame. The responsibility still rests on the individual.”
Has social media taken over a page?
What also made it worse is that, in many cases, social platforms aren’t just on the sidelines.
“Social media shot itself in the foot,” said technology entrepreneur Lon Safko, author of the Social Media Bible. “When I teach business classes, the first rule is never to take sides, especially if it’s political. Everyone knows that in ‘gatherings’ there are two things you never talk about: religion and politics.”
Safko warned that it also appears that social media has sided with liberal and democratic politics – right up to a progressive agenda.
“When that choice is over and we all get on with our lives, everyone will remember the choices their trusted social media platforms made,” noted Safko. “Statistically, at least 50% of these platform users will conscientiously use this platform less or not at all. However, if you choose one side over the other, you automatically alienate 50% of your target audience. This is always a bad business decision.”
The fact that President Trump’s statements – as unconfirmed and controversial as those comments may be – have been invoked when Biden’s supporters have not, certainly shows that there might be an agenda.
“In a recent poll, more than 60% of Americans said they no longer trust social media, specifically Facebook,” added Safko. “I agree with the respondents. If our social networks decide what information I see and what information is censored, I don’t want any part of it.”
Perhaps it would also be a smarter way for social media companies to curb such political commentary. This doesn’t have to ban political speech, but perhaps memes that ignite the flames should be stopped – to actually heal this growing divide.