Your newsfeed is saturated with political opinions, and in some cases, rants.
You’re wondering when someone will invent a “hide all political posts” button. No matter how fast you scroll, you can see them.
Trump’s latest gaffe.
An update on Clinton’s emails.
Johnson’s inability to recall a name.
Can’t we all go back to posting funny memes and pictures of our food?
The November 8th election is right around the corner and just as you have to choose a candidate, you have to choose how you’re going to navigate the murky waters of social media this election season. We’re putting 4 options on our ballot with tips and tricks for each approach.
Option 1: Be the Avoider
This is the easiest to master because it is cut and dry. There’s no middle ground with this path – you just don’t engage.
You don’t share op-eds, you don’t like statuses about any of the candidates, you don’t comment on people’s posts with your opinion.
No. You are Switzerland. You share pictures of smiling children, memes about military life and adorable pets. The most controversial thing you’ll post this year is something about the merits of gluten, and even then you’ll have a non-committal caveat alongside it. The avoiders don’t even touch on politics.
Pros: You offend no one.
Cons: I actually can’t think of any. Who doesn’t love memes?
Option 2: Be the Informer
In the words of the Skimm, “Share that sh*t!” Offer both (or all, if you’re including third-party candidates) perspectives.
Love the latest Clinton ad? Share it!
Thought Pence did well in the debates? Let the world know!
One of the best things I’ve read on Facebook this political season was when a friend asked for people to state why they are voting the way they are. She did a thread for each candidate with strict instructions only to list positives (no “I’m voting for one because I hate the other”), and promised to delete any comments that disagreed; she wanted it to feel like a “safe space.”
I learned so much from those threads, because it was an opportunity to listen, not to get lost in the noise of arguments.
If your goal is to inform, always consider the source before you share if you’re trying to present news. If the website’s address has the words left, right, conservative, liberal, liberty, progressive or a whole other host of terms, it’s biased.
Pros: You’ll be an informed voter come November. You might help someone else make up their mind.
Cons: You might incite some spirited debate, which may not be the route you’re headed. If you do, stay above board and be respectful.
Option 3: Be the Silent Supporter
You share the occasional article. You post your candidate’s latest inspirational moment. Your friends likely know which way you’ll vote but no one has blocked you yet (at least to your knowledge). There’s no shame in standing behind a candidate, and if you can do it in a way that doesn’t jeopardize any of your relationships, more power to you.
Pros: You’ll find your tribe and you can talk about the latest and greatest in party politics “offline” with them.
Cons: Anytime you publish a post online that supports one candidate or trashes the other you risk alienating those on the other side. This is a hotly contested election. Tread carefully; emotions are high and tolerance is low.
Option 4: Be Loud and Proud
You be you, my friend. Many men and women have fought and died for us to have a voice in the democratic process. You don’t have to hide your little light under a bushel. Shine away!
Pros: No one will accidentally send you yard signs for the wrong candidate.
Cons: Your friend list might look a little different on November 9th when it’s all said and done. The thing is, and I know you know this, no matter how many articles you post about how horrible Hillary is or how you’ll #Nevertrump, the only thing you’ll never do is change someone’s mind. Nobody reads your fiery Facebook post and decides to switch parties.
The undecideds of the world want just the facts, ma’am, and not the belligerent commentary.
It’s great you’re passionate about your politics. I hope you’re that passionate about your friendships, too. And if you are, then know that despite your posts of “I can’t believe ANYONE could ever vote for him/her,” there actually are people out there who plan to. A lot of people. And chances are good you’re pushing them further away from not only your candidate, but from you too.
Whether you’re staying off the airwaves or your profile picture is your candidate, how you handle politics on social media is just as personal as your vote. It has to be right for you.
In the end, be kind, be tolerant, and be a good winner or loser on election night. You might need a drinking buddy the day after, and you want to make sure they haven’t all blocked you.