Social Media’s Political Dialogue (or Lack Thereof)

Social Medias Political Dialogue (or Lack Thereof) image Wall Street Protest by Louis LanzanoSocial Medias Political Dialogue (or Lack Thereof)

Photo: Louis Lanzano via Wikimedia Commons

As the government shutdown continues,both sides of the political spectrum are bombarding us with their “messages” and agendas on each and every social media platform.  Where is the outrage or the impassioned support?  Where are the mass rallies and protests?

Granted, there have been posts and comments across the social media landscape favoring both sides of the issue; but where are the living breathing bodies taking it to the streets?  Having lived in both the pre and current Internet worlds, I’m not expecting to see reactions on par with the Civil Rights marches, the Vietnam protests, or even burning of bras. I am disappointed at what I haven’t seen.  There have been those who have tried to bring focus to this hot-button issue.  Unfortunately, they do not seem to have the same outpouring of support as the release of the latest movie trailer or preview of this week’s episode of a popular reality show.

One theory, and trust me it is just a theory not based on facts and figures, is that a majority of those utilizing social media have not grasped how this affects them directly. I know it is simplistic; but, for whatever reason, society tends to focus on the issues perceived to either benefit or harm us on a personal level. Everything about the events over the last week affects every single one of us.  Too many seem to be going about their daily lives with either blinders on or the belief that their opinions do not matter in the grand scheme of things.

An extremely simplistic example would be to ask a random sampling their thoughts on yesterday’s baseball scores, how their favorite golfer did, or what did they think of the photo of Sally dancing on the table. Compare this sampling to their thoughts on the political juggernaut in Washington. I fear that Sally’s dancing photo would probably get more comments, likes and shares.

Many believe that politics has no place in social media. Tell that to the media establishment that has latched on to social media with gusto.  News reports and political analyses are posted on the Internet for a reason. Not only to build up viewership, but as an open invitation for commentary and discourse.  Even more significant is that the political parties have become more social media savvy.  They understand that our voices are necessary to both formulate a successful platform and disseminate it.  When we are silent, we do both them and ourselves a huge disservice.

As you scroll through your daily news feed and notifications; take a moment between the animal photos, the birthday wishes, status updates and the event invites.  Click on a post you normally would have ignored.  Don’t be afraid to post a comment on how you feel. Share the post with your friends and connections in your social media network. Engage them in conversation.  There will definitely be differences of opinion; that is to be expected and encouraged.  It will open up the possibility of learning that there may be a point of view that you never considered before.  While you do not have to agree with the differing opinions; you will having a clearer understanding of it.

Be more vocal when reading something you either agree or disagree with.  Find a way to take your thoughts and ideas back to streets; away from the computer and smartphone with their perceived sense of anonymity. If you are not comfortable with marching down Main Street carrying a sign and chanting, so be it.  It will take baby steps. For a difference to be made and for change to occur, there needs to be dialogue. Get the conversation going in both the real and virtual worlds.

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