Thoughts

3 Reasons Why You Might Want to Discuss Politics in Real Life Rather than on Social Media

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No doubt about it, social media has completely changed the way in which we live our lives these days. Some of this is good — it’s great being able to share photos with your family at a moment’s notice, or to communicate with people on the other side of the globe as if they were standing right next to you.

But then, some of it is bad, too. Likely no one’s a really big fan of those people who constantly whine, complain, and fish for attention on Facebook, for example.

One of the things that seems to most set people off, however, is political discussions that take place on social media. Political views are deeply personal, so if you’ve got a strong opinion about something, you should by no means keep it hidden.

But is social media the right place to have the discussion? Well, maybe not. Here are a few reasons why.

Tone is lost on social media, and so is social context

As we all know, misunderstandings happen really easily when people are communicating by text — and sarcasm in particular doesn’t come across very well.

Ultimately, people just communicate very differently on social media than they do in person, and a lot of the subtle cues and contexts that make a face-to-face discussion meaningful are completely lost.

Even if you’re arguing a point in good faith, with a willingness to engage with other people, social media can distort your message and twist the entire discussion around, purely because of the fact that tone and social context are lost on social media.

Social media naturally tends to bring out some of people’s worst tendencies and turn all discussions into snarky wars

You probably don’t get people throwing slurs at you and screaming in your face very often in real life. But on social media — and on the internet, more generally — it’s likely that you encounter that kind of stuff far more often.

There’s a certain social and psychological phenomenon that many people have spoken about at length, where communications that take place on social media are just a lot more brutal, confrontational, and snarky, than they would be in person.

This seems to be because when people are arguing on social media, they’re more “detached” than they would be in real life. That distance seems to equal less courtesy and self-control.

So, making a political point in a sober, face-to-face discussion with friends might create some elevated tempers. But it might go a lot further than that on social media.

You’re unlikely to change many minds

You can’t read people on social media, and because you’re throwing information out into the ether, you can’t know who’s engaging with it and who isn’t.

Perhaps you’re a big supporter of Sen. Mike Crapo, but other people on your newsfeed have a real problem with some of his positions. Will your impassioned Facebook post change their minds?

Maybe not. The angriest people on your newsfeed might rant at you and leave, still angry. Those who agree with you will hit “like”. And most other people will probably either ignore it, or seethe quietly on their own.

In a real discussion, people can effectively bounce ideas off each other. On social media, things are more often about fishing for approval.

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