Losing friends: The clash of social media and politics

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?


  1. This topic has been on my mind a lot lately. During the last elections (and it was a smaller election) I declared my areas of cyber space to be politics free. So many of my followers and fans thanked me for that. I just don't want to see it. I don't care what other people's politics are. I know who I'm voting for and to me, it's silly to point that out to anyone. Do I think that all my followers are suddenly going to fall in line with me? No. Do I want them to? No.

    What really bugs me isn't the "I'm voting for _____." It's the nastiness. It's the one liners that are taken out of context. It's the mud slinging. I have one friend who's far more political than the rest and to be honest, I've thought about unfriending her several times. It's not that her view points don't line up with mine, it's that she's just so freaking hateful about it. And it's nearly constant.

    But I had an epiphany the other day. Being friends with someone isn't just about being friends with a person who sees eye to eye with you, who is a carbon copy of you. No one is exactly like you and if you're waiting on that group of friends, you'll probably never find them. This woman and I go wayyyy back. And we've been through too much for me to get bent out of shape over her political point of view. True friends are hard to come by and I count her as a true friend. So I'll just scroll past her rants and look at the pictures of her kids and chat about other things in her life. Ultimately, our friendship is worth more than her politics.

  2. Selena! How wonderful to hear from you!

    You have some great points. In general, I'm a believer of learning about all sides of a topic. I've changed a lot of views over the years because I was open to listening. However, when it comes to politics, I never see people educating. Instead, I see them saying why so and so is stupid. I don't think anyone comes to change their mind by seeing stuff like that.

    Sounds like your friend is lucky to have you as a friend! You've found a healthy way to handle it, Kudos!


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