Polarized posting

November 14, 2016

Payton Potter

Features Editor | jpp017@latech.edu




From Mac and PC consumers to Democrat to Republican voters, there is no doubt the world is getting more and more polarized. I have seen people on Facebook argue over religious ideas, celebrity scandals and cell phones. I have seen divisive and often cruel tweets shared between blue and black lives matter supporters. And I have been shockingly disappointed in the behavior of the people involved in creating this division.


I believe this ever-growing divide  has been caused by social media. Almost everyone has immediate access to a number of different social platforms, and very rarely does anyone hold themselves back from using those platforms to publicize their opinion.


Take, for example, the shooting of the Cincinnati Zoo’s gorilla, Harambe. In mere hours, the internet exploded into a Harambe-chasm of people siding with the gorilla and people siding with the zookeepers. Suddenly, everyone was a gorilla expert or a parenting expert.


I have to admit, I have been guilty of polarized posting. Even as recently as the Harambe incident, I remember firing off a tweet or two in support of the gorilla. But the constant divide is becoming harder to ignore, and the impact is becoming frightening.


Here is an example of what I mean. When I publish a Facebook post in support of Harambe or against Donald Trump or about my trusty Apple computer, my followers and friends can classify and qualify me based on my opinions and interests. Likewise, I form an opinion about them when I see where they stand on issues.


Sometimes, I might even comment on their posts, creating an argument. As the 2016 election rolled around, more and more social media users began posting about who they supported and who they despised. As information about the candidates began to surface, it seemed like an already divided America began to pull even farther apart.


It is natural to desire affirmation. That is why we, myself included, surround our selves, whether in real life or online, with people who agree with us. It feels good to talk with like-minded peers, but it easily turns into an us-against-them situation that results in a stalemate. We might even believe we are entitled to our own way of thinking – or that someone with a dissenting opinion has no right to speak it. But to believe and perpetuate this selfishness only widens the divide and disrupts our lives and interactions.
Differences in opinion are okay – cruel comments are not. Facebook posts are okay – name calling is not. Supporting a movement is OK – disrespecting others is not. Luckily, a solution is simple. Respect and understanding go a long way, and self-censoring your online presence with mutual respect in mind can begin to heal our divided country.


Payton Potter is a senior journalism major from Farmersville, Texas, who serves as  features editor for The Tech Talk.


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