Do you bring your social network into the voting booth or church pew with you?

When I first became active on social networking sites, I decided to never tweet about politics or post a status update about religion. These are two areas which are off limits in my personal playbook.

In this day and age where everyone has a soap box and a forum upon which to share their opinions with others, I see many people, however, who openly voice their voting decisions, their views on controversial political issues, their prayers, and their love of, or disbelief in, God. For right or wrong, knowing this information makes me feel closer--or more distant--from these people. Although opposites attract, I believe more fully in "birds of a feather flock together" and, yes, if you share my opinion on any of these issues, I will most likely feel a closer connection to you.

When we discover we have a common belief system with someone, it usually does create a bond of sorts. Will this make Joe more likely to want to hire Sally as a consultant because she's in support of SB101 like he is? (I made up that Senate bill, so don't look it up.) If Joe sees Sally say she's in support of same sex marriage and he isn't, will Joe be more likely to hire Sam (who either has the same opinion as Joe or has not publicly announced an opinion at all)? Do social networking sites open up a whole Pandora's Box when it comes to our private lives and very personal beliefs?

As for me, if I see someone share something political or religious that I agree with, I may, and have on occasion, sent a private message to them saying that it's nice to know they're a kindred spirit. I did this twice today, which actually gave me the idea for this post. And, although I respect everyone's right to share what they please and cast no judgment on their decision to do so, I still choose to censor myself on certain topics.

In person, I do enjoy a spirited discussion on evolution versus creation or any number of controversial or provocative topics. However, in person, my comments have context. In person, I choose who hears what I say and who I engage with. On social networking sites, I may be throwing out my opinion to thousands of strangers.

It used to be that it was completely inappropriate to ask someone who they voted for, and to do so was considered ignorant. I suppose, I'm still a bit old school in keeping certain aspects of my life private. Am I alone in this? Do you want to see how I've filled out my sample ballot or know who I do or don't worship?

Is there room in the voting booth for me and my entire social network?


  1. You read my mind Amber. Thanks for expressing my thoughts exactly. I'll just remain a bit "old school" ;-)

  2. Hmmm... Ok, so the question appears to be~ is being perceived is more important than standing by your convictions?

    I suppose I'm simply all about *do the right thing*. Each of us is raised with a belief system, and educated (or not) into a political viewpoint. *Is* there a right & wrong?

    In my opinion, there is only a wrong when an expressed belief is in danger of hurting the person expressing, or others.

    *Do the right thing* is about allowing people to express their beliefs, and *seeking to understand* those beliefs- even when you disagree.

    "Pandora's Box when it comes to our private lives and very personal beliefs?" Yes. And, depends. Really, everything is perception; perception is always wrong.

    So, if how you're being perceived is more important than standing by your convictions, then separation of private lives/personal beliefs is a good place to be.

    It's a *very* fine line!

    That's my 2 cents ;)

    Great article Amber!!!! e.

  3. Shannon: Thanks for visiting and taking the time to leave a comment! Old school girls need to stick together! ;->

  4. Esta: Your assessment is absolutely correct. It's all about how you wish to be perceived. Religion and politics is where I've drawn my own personal line, but there are other issues which I tend to be vocal about which define me, as well. It IS a very fine line and to each his own. We all have to do what makes the most sense to us and our own sense of values, don't we?

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. I am one of those people who post political and religious comments on social networking sites. Rather than your question, I often find myself asking, "Is it appropriate to use social networking sites as tools for sales and self-promotion?" To me, that is the better question. Consider a face-to-face network of people. I know I find far more irritating the hucksters who sees me as a mark than I do the politically or even religiously excited who want to share their excitement. This translates to online networking. When I tweet that we should sell Arizona to Mexico, I do so with awareness of the Republican representative from Texas who follows me, as well as the young liberals from both coasts. In short, I know that a post of that type will have _some_ impact on them - agreement, outrage, retweet, unfollow - I am networking with my online social group in mind. The continuous, pounding hucksterism of many on the social networking sites is shallow, impersonal, and in my opinion, far closer to completely inappropriate than is asking someone for whom they voted.

  6. Douglas: This is why I love comments. You can take one topic and, based on the input of others, the conversation evolves.

    I guess we all have our own "belief system" as to what is appropriate and what is not. Like with most things, social media is what you make of it.

    Thanks for your comment and for contributing to the conversation.

  7. Religion and politics (and sex) tend to be deeply personal issues that reflect who you really are, more directly than, say, what your favourite breakfast cereal is.

    I appreciate that some people don't want others to know who they really are and prefer anonymity, but what's the point then of social networking if you don't want to form real relationships?

  8. Father Dave: Thanks for chiming in and bringing your unique perspective to the conversation.

    I guess a lot of this boils down to why and how one chooses to use social networking sites. Do you only connect with friends? Are you active as a way to make NEW friends? Do you use these tools to secure new business? To make professional contacts? I think our intent probably plays into this issue a lot.

    If one's primary reason for tweeting, for example, is to get a job, discussing one's religion may not be appropriate (as this is not something you would likely discuss in a job interview). However, if the job you seek is as a political analyst, it would be wildly inappropriate for you not to tweet about politics.

    I received a few comments on this post via Facebook as well, and the response seems to be just as varied as people's political persuasions and religious beliefs. No one view seems to be winning out. As with most things, being true to yourself and being comfortable with your actions is what matters most. Looks like there's no cookie cutter answer on this one.

    I've enjoyed hearing everyone's thoughts on the subject and I thank you for weighing in.

  9. Chiming in really late - I've been catching up.

    There are many topics I'd like to blog about. I start writing and then I too, ask myself if it's appropriate. Next thing you know, I've got a bazillion drafts just sitting there.

    When I started my blog, it was supposed to be all my opinions, thoughts, and ramblings about anything and everything - including politics. It was supposed to be for me. The more I blogged, the more I noticed people were actually reading, and the less I felt comfortable sharing for fear I'll lose my readers.

  10. Marianne:

    It's a conundrum, isn't it? Some say be yourself in everything and if people don't like it, so what? Others say it's smart to keep some things private. I suppose it boils down to why one participates in social media.

    If it's something one does for fun and exclusively for their own enjoyment, that is a different mindset and approach than if you're trying to attract business.

    I, for one, enjoy your blog. Do what feels right for you. I think it's an individual choice for all of us. As is the case with most social media, I don't think there's a right or a wrong, instead, it's just about how you choose to use the platform.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject. Keep up the blog writing and I'll continue reading. ;->


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