Social Media is Ruining the Political Process

In the first presidential election that I (and much of my social media network) was able to vote in, it became very clear to me that social media has become a dominant force in American politics and is changing the political process. For months before and after the 2016 presidential race, my newsfeed was filled almost entirely with posts, comments, and videos regarding the election. While I am not particularly interested in politics, I like to consider myself pretty well educated on the actual substance that the candidates claim they will bring to our country if elected. However, I can say with reasonable certainty that most of my acquaintances (and people in the country for that matter) don’t take the time to learn about the specific economic, social, and international policies and stances of each of the candidates. Instead, they get their political “education” by opening up their social media platform of choice and reading what their network is posting.

While some believe that information obtained through social media is better than nothing, I would have to disagree. Content shared on social media is typically emotion driven, and that is no different for political content. It doesn’t focus on the important issues like tax policies, budget plans, or foreign policy, but on things like an inappropriate comment made by one candidate or an exposed lie from the other. People are not getting a well-rounded understanding of what candidates plan to do, and are basing their opinions (and votes) on trending, emotion provoking content on social media. Furthermore, the constant bombardment of political content on social media has contributed to an increased polarization between the parties. The heated content at our fingertips forces us to choose a side by how we interact with it, and makes it practically impossible to be neutral or see the good qualities in both candidates. Lastly, social media has changed the way we interact with others about politics. Behind a screen, people take much more aggressive positions and say more blunt and offensive things than they would in person. People are less likely to engage in face-to-face political dialogue and debate contradicting viewpoints, and it has made politics just about the touchiest subject around.

Social media is ruining the political process by breeding uneducated, polarized constituents who rely too heavily on the biased content on their screens and are unable to have a mature, face-to-face political debate with others.