The Pitfalls of Political Posting

By Daniel Thomas Are your social media accounts and posts helpful or harmful right now?

Photo: Austin Distel on Unsplash.

Almost overnight, every Instagram story post that comes my way is politically charged. Gone are the days when people would use the story function to post pictures that they think are good but not good enough to get the required amount of “likes.” Videos of babies and dogs have been replaced by extreme oversimplifications of American politics, by “here’s why I’m right” posts and the more graphic “here’s why they’re wrong” posts. 

 

It makes sense that I’ve gotten a few questions relating to social media usage and phone etiquette. As a self-acknowledged part of the problem that has led to social media’s increased politicization, I hope I can offer some insights that will serve as good advice for you and as a good reminder for me. Happy reading!

Hi Social,

 

If you are truly in the elite group of people whose lives have not been significantly affected by social media, I applaud you. Most of us will admit to spending more time than we’d like scrolling, snapping, and second-guessing whether we actually remember the person who’s picture we just liked.

 

Picture yourself going immediately from this article and deleting every form of social media that you own. Picture it not as a week-long cleanse, but as a permanent, final thing. How do you feel?

 

If your response is anything like “fearful,” it may be that social media is gripping you harder than you realize. It’s fascinating how the fear of missing out on the activities of our “good acquaintances” can instill a sense of panic. And yet, constantly watching other people through social media, instead of truly interacting with them, might actually be making us lonelier than if we just pitched our account altogether.

 

Researchers and article-writers who are isolated from your personal experience will tell you that ditching social media is a no-brainer. Contributing to this anti-social-media chorus are those who warn of social media’s deceptive nature and the dangers it poses to keeping your personal information safe.  

 

And then the pandemic hit.

 

Will your rates of loneliness actually go down if you delete social media right now? In a time where replacing interactions through the phone with in-person interactions is significantly easier said than done, deleting social media might actually pose a greater risk to your mental health. 

 

You’re welcome to weigh the pros and cons of keeping social media around, but choose one option or the other because you want to contribute to your wellbeing, not because it’s the fashionable thing to do. Best of luck!  

Hi Political,

 

Answering your question really does depend on what you mean by “helping.” If you’re asking whether your posts are actually influencing people and potentially changing their political inclinations, you may be surprised. 

 

We often hear people tell us that posting political messages on Instagram that encourage others to take action have almost no effect and are largely a waste of our time to post. However, polls conducted around the 2016 presidential election show that political content on social media does in fact lead to some people modifying their views on a particular issue, or even changing the candidate they support. (The poll’s reflection of which group is more open-minded and which group is more set in their ways probably won’t surprise you).

 

Unfortunately, reuniting the world under a single banner of peace and love is beyond the capabilities of your singular Instagram story post. You also have to realize that the number of people who feel burned out by political posts on social media is roughly equal to (and today, likely surpasses) the number of people who will be swayed by your Instagram story. 

 

Do you attempt to inform at the sake of losing Instagram followers? The decision is yours. Perhaps your political posts will serve as a litmus test for who your true friends are. My advice is to start small, to double-triple check that the information you’re posting is backed up by credible sources. Good luck converting the masses!

Hi Conscious,

 

When in doubt, don’t. For those who aren’t aware, double-texting is the act of sending a follow up text if your first message doesn’t get a response — or worse, if your first message is opened and still doesn’t get a response. Changing the topic and trying to bait someone into responding often feels like the way to go, as it can help to determine whether that person just got distracted or if they aren’t interested in talking to you. But you know what would help even more? A third text. Then maybe a fourth text. If you open the door to double-texting, where do you draw the line?

 

Unless you have made plans in advance and are following up the day of, double-texting should largely be kept to a minimum. Not only is double-texting socially discouraged because it makes you seem desperate and vulnerable, think about how uncomfortable it can be to receive multiple texts from someone you’re not interested in communicating with. 

 

That being said, I have some friends who are truly awful at texting. One friend in particular actually asked me to double text them so that they would be reminded to respond. If someone you know seems open to connecting with you in person and then is hard to reach over the phone, this may be why. 

 

Talk to them about it in person, ask if texting is a good way to reach out to them. If texting increases when they receive a friendly reminder in person, you’re good to go. Otherwise, respect their wishes and respect yourself. One instance of double-texting isn’t the end of the world, but if it becomes a habit, it’s going to drive both of you insane.

 

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