Has social media increased the political divide?

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By: Maxwell Faery

NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. –  It’s all about social media. Nowadays, people get all of their news from their friends or the internet. Not many people wake up in the morning and reach for the remote to turn on the morning news. Americans wake up to their iPhone alarm and get on their various devices to check their messages. Next they go on Twitter to see which celebrity started a new dieting fad or to see what our nation’s leader has said – not on television – in a tweet that our President sent at the click of a button. We are embedded in a progressive world with social media shoved into our faces every single hour of our day.

Everybody has news in their pocket. For politics, this is a blessing and a curse. Politically, America is facing a great challenge. There are school shootings, environmental issues, health care confusion, constant intolerances among political parties and record-breaking spending that leaves America with an insane national debt. These problems are so complex and so controversial that they are littered all over our timelines on social media. It is nearly impossible for the average person not to have a strong opinion today on how the United States of America should be run. Social media gives everybody a voice to display their opinions whether it is strictly conservative or very liberal.

There is more to the rapid division among Americans than the problems of today. If social media did not exist, nobody would know about the varying opinions of others unless they asked them, and it is my observation that most people do not want to discuss politics face-to-face. People like expressing their opinions on social media because it’s  much less confrontational than debating with a person face-to-face. They would rather get their political stance on social media and be backed up by their friends who agree with them.

In my opinion, social media is one of the most unreliable sources for news. Facebook is a perfect example. Facebook has not only actual news networks on their website, but also pages and blogs who are not always as credible as they claim to be. They often are extremely biased in politics and share facts or statistics that do not tell the whole story.  This “fake news” causes constant banter and bashing amongst the political parties. People simply are not willing to listen or admit that maybe they are overlooking the whole picture, and some people have opinions that fall in the middle of the political spectrum.

It is hard for people like myself, who has stances on both sides of the political spectrum, to find common ground with people who stand strongly on either side of politics. When I do meet these people it appears that they, like myself,  have given up on trying to compromise with citizens who hold other views. The United States has been divided since it’s earliest years of establishment.  However, if we do not open our ears and find some solutions to the hard problems today, we could very likely be on a verge of a war.

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