There are more people using social media today than there were during the last U.S. presidential election in 2008. More people tweeting and posting Facebook status updates about political news stories. More folks sounding off in real time during the presidential debates as they get annoyed, angered, or frustrated. Whether it's about Obama's health care program or Romney's binders full of women, people have an opinion. But, do you need to hear it? Are you starting to dislike your friends and connections because of it? Do you feel like Patricia?
According to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, 40% of social media users say they were surprised by the political views that their friends posted online. Another 20% say they've blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone because the person posted too much political commentary. There's a reason they say you shouldn't discuss politics or religion. People feel strongly and no matter what their opinion, it's about 99.9999% unlikely that they'll unexpectedly embrace the opposite viewpoint.
Personally, I haven't unfriended or unfollowed anyone due to their political tweets or updates. However, I'm not going to lie, there are some people I don't quite see the same anymore. On one hand, can you really be friends with someone if you don't know the "real" them? Are our friendships bound to be more superficial that way? Or are there some things we just shouldn't discuss out in public? Or, only with like-minded individuals?
There's nothing like an election year to help you learn more about your social circle. But, do we have to? Should we just all keep it to ourselves? Or is saying whatever we want and letting the chips (or friends) fall as they may the best approach? Right or wrong, people don't seem to censor themselves much when it comes to social media. We've all been given a soapbox, and most of us use it at one time or another.
Has politics taken its toll on your social stream? Have you alienated someone when you shared your thoughts? Have you lost respect for someone due their support of a certain candidate or proposition? Is social media the place to share political views? Or are we all better off tweeting pictures of our meals and posting updates about our dogs?