Oh, the joys of the freedom of speech.
Over the past few years people have become more opinionated on a wider selection of topics. We see it on every platform, enhanced by news outlets and all forms of social media. It can be difficult to decide if this has become a good or bad thing when considering the larger picture. While there are unifying aspects whereby social media platforms create communities for common connections and chances to start conversations, the popularity of sharing opinions, and the attitudes behind them, has negatively divided our nation.
Every time I get on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram I am bombarded with political views and claims. Within almost every post, there are responses attempting to debunk the original post. It seems like these days you can’t even get away with re-posting a video you found inspirational on Facebook without someone attacking you.
With media constantly at our fingertips, we are all bound to run into the effects of this polarization of opinion. Let’s consider a hypothetical example. Say Anne colors up the comment section of a Facebook post with “red” ideals. A contributing party – we’ll call her Jennifer – will consequently chime in with a list of “blue” refutes. The discussion, then, normally transforms from quasi-friendly to downright malicious, and before Anne and Jennifer know it, they each have an army of supporters with the same views all fighting to win the argument. The problem is that these types of arguments aren’t doing anybody any good. In fact, they only make each side feel more comfortable with their own views and more hostile towards opposing ones.
While it’s nice to encourage people to speak their minds, it seems like all at once many have become entitled and now feel obligated to share their views in response to pretty much every issue. It’s pretty clear this is partly due to social media and the immediacy of giving our feedback without putting much thought into it. Unfortunately, when someone posts in the heat of the moment it’s often perceived as them asking for a fight, which only magnifies the gap between opinions and makes it more difficult to find common ground in a debate.
I wish for the days when face to face interaction was more prevalent than internet connections and people were expected to put on polite faces when associating with others they disagreed with. People’s opinions may have differed centuries ago just like now, but without the safety of arguing from behind a computer screen, the expectations to keep a level head and an open mind during debate were much more pronounced. People may be growing more politically involved and outspoken about their beliefs, but the price we’re paying as an opinionated nation is greater now thanks to the powers stemming from social media. In the long run, the divisiveness may not be worth it.