In our hyper-partisan society, it seems the one thing everyone can agree on is that social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have not made America a more unified and respectful place.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll reports 57 percent of Americans agree social media networks including Facebook and Twitter do more to divide the country than unite while 35 percent polled apparently have never been on political Twitter because they think the social sites help bring the nation together. One scroll through a politically related Twitter feed and those 35 percent would quickly change their mind.
In addition, 51 percent believe social media spread lies and falsehoods more than spreading news and information.
Sixty-one percent feel social media spreads more unfair attacks and rumors against public figures and corporations while 32 percent think these sites hold public figures and corporations accountable.
Finally, 26 percent say they have blocked or unfriended a contact on Facebook or another social media site due to their political views.
There are good aspects to social media that we all enjoy including learning about news we might’ve missed, watching funny videos and staying in touch with old friends and family.
However, it’s hard to deny these sites have also contributed largely to the hyper-political and hyper-partisan culture we live in. Every day there are people that find something new to be upset, angry and enraged about politically.
The thousands of daily hate-filled, personal attack Tweets aimed at public figures including members of Congress is disturbing. We live in a society that does not respect those in authority.
I’m not saying you have to agree with a representative on any or all issues because their position may go against your own religious and political beliefs but the personal, vile, vulgar, hate-filled posts on social media doesn’t help to move the political discussion forward. It just makes our society and politics more toxic which isn’t good for anyone.
Sometimes I wonder if we didn’t have Facebook and Twitter would our politics be so personal and toxic? Could there be a chance that we’d be less divided on issues and could find more common ground if our national politics didn’t seem like such a battlefield that is fought daily in 280 characters or less on Twitter?
Or, have people always felt this way, and social media just amplifies thoughts and behavior that has always been there?
I believe social media has played a part in creating this more toxic environment that has contributed to our nation becoming more divided, but social sites aren’t the only reason we’re so divided.
The root of our divided country isn’t just the social platforms that allow awful people to say terrible things. The comments online are just a simple reflection of what lies within the users posting these messages.
Unfortunately, our society continues to move further away from a moral and religious foundation which is the main reason our politics and culture have become so dark and toxic. The moral collapse of our country is getting posted, liked, shared and Tweeted daily by the minute.
Dr. Chad Whittle holds a doctoral degree in mass communication and is the host of “A Whittle Bit of Commentary.” Subscribe today to his podcast on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Google Play. Read his weekly column at ChadWhittle.com and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.