Politics and Social Media: A Perfect Pair? | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Politics and Social Media: A Perfect Pair?

Comment Writer Helena Shaw discusses why she believes that social media is not the place for politics

You know what I really love? What really makes my morning as I scroll through Facebook dreading having to pull myself out of bed to go to lectures? What brightens my morning is seeing the hordes of political posts on Facebook.

‘Here we go again’ I think, as for some obscure reason, despite knowing it will fuel the growing rage inside me, I click on the link that ‘Jenny’, the Jeremy Corbyn fangirl from school has posted, despite having no previous knowledge of politics and looking at only one source from one biased viewpoint.

Even better than the political articles themselves, that have been endlessly shared without being read, are the comments. As we all know you can easily change someone’s political opinion by screaming that they are wrong with all caps, expletives, and referring to the them as ‘Tory scum’, that’s definitely how we end up compromising and fixing political issues rather than further polarising other people’s views and affirming your own.

Whilst social media may increase people’s access to information, and it may give people a platform to speak their own views, it doesn’t offer a big picture

Whilst social media may increase people’s access to information, and it may give people a platform to speak their own views, it doesn’t offer a big picture. Researchers found that during the American election of 2016, half of the population was surprised by the result based on what they had seen on social media. This is because they had only seen one point of view, as Facebook filters out the other views and shows us the thoughts that reflect our little bubbles. This ‘soap-box culture’ gives people a new platform to speak on, but it doesn’t mean anyone is listening. Just because 30 people have shared or liked your thoughts on Theresa May’s terrible dress sense, does not mean that that this is popular opinion. Although, in this case I think we can agree on that.

Not only does sharing political thoughts on Facebook not help and in fact ostracise the other side of the argument, but it’s also really annoying. I am by no means suggesting that the general public should not be involved in politics; please vote and be an active citizen. But liking a post on Facebook, one that may not even be true, isn’t going to help any more than telling someone they are wrong in all capital letters. Just because you click a button, it doesn’t mean you are making a change. And lastly, I’d much rather see a BuzzFeed quiz on how my choice of fruit tells me what kind of wedding dress I will wear, than some uniformed rant about the political circumstance of the country that sounds like it could have been written by an angry 13-year-old… so can everyone just please stop?



Published

6th February 2018 at 9:00 am



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