According to a well-known saying, there are some things you shouldn’t talk about at dinner parties. Namely, politics and religion, two topics which have the potential to massively divide people. I would argue the same could be said for social media.
With three weeks to go until the general election, manifestoes are being launched and people are trying to decide who to vote for, if they haven’t already. In recent years we have witnessed an explosion in social media terms; although twitter was round five years ago during the last general election, it has surged in popularity with many people finding breaking news from there rather than news sites themselves, new blogs are being started daily and we have more access information than ever before. All of this has, in turn, created debate online.
Debate can be healthy. However, much like at dinner parties, having debate online can cause friction. I have seen people fall out over their difference in opinions over political matters. I know of people who have lost followers or even friends over issues, with discussions turning into mud-slinging and this just makes me sad. What happened to respecting the opinion of other people? The last time I checked we in the United Kingdom, allegedly, live in a democracy, one which gives us the right to vote how we sit fit and in which we are confident (as much as one can be) that our votes are not rigged.
Your opinions are just that, opinions. It isn’t more valid than mine and you have the right to it, just as I have the right to mine. Personally, I will always try to listen to another side of any discussion. In my mind, it will either further inform me which can only be a good thing. or cement the belief that I already hold. Either way, unless you are insulting in some way (I include racism, homophobia, sexism etc here), I am prepared to listen to balance what you say against what I already think but be prepared that I might not change my mind and I hope you will afford me the same respect; I do not see the need to lose friends over my political beliefs.
On the other hand, it can be difficult to debate anything, never mind such divisive matters, over a series of social media updates, particularly Twitter which limits you to 140 characters. Aside from the character restriction, tone doesn’t translate well in written form. I know I often think of someone as shouting at their phone or laptop whenever an exclamation mark is used which can immediately cause me to go on the defensive, at least in my head.
On that note, I am off to read what the various political parties are offering as my mind isn’t quite made up yet, is yours?
PS If you are not registered vote, you need to register by 20th April. You can do that here.
PPS The ever awesome Mummy Barrow also wrote a post on this last week. Read that here.