In today’s political climate, the U.S. is the most divided that it has ever been. Interestingly enough, the difference can be divided into a 50-50 split - this has never been the case in all of U.S. history. So, how could we have gotten to this point? One critical player is social media. Social media has exposed us to the extreme ends of both parties. These platforms are designed to align with our viewing history, meaning if we engage with content that is either liberal or conservative, the algorithms will generate content more geared to one side. This means that we will always fall victim to close-mindedness and ignorance, and will never be exposed to the other side of the story.
Social media use affects users’ political views and involvement by exposing them to certain views or determining their understanding of current events. Many depend on social media as a primary news source. This increased reliance could stimulate more political discussions both online and offline, but also might limit the political views and information users are exposed to. Popular platforms such as Twitter and Parler have made the spotlight during these past few weeks due to the rioting and storming of the Capitol. Many are blaming these platforms for acting as an organizer for violent events and spreading mass fear. Facebook has also been known to circulate unfiltered content. The problem is that no one is really checking the truth of what’s being posted, yet we are treating them as valid sources of information. It’s important that we are taking the necessary steps to stay politically informed without feeling overwhelmed. Here’s how:
Social media can be a great tool that connects us with each other while spreading awareness about important issues. It’s up to us to not get too caught up in what’s being circulated, and to understand that what we see may be only one side to the story. We should always try to stay open-minded and to try to accept each other’s differences. With this mindset, I truly believe that we can start mending this political divide that is so extreme in today’s society.