Make social media great again

By Lanthorn Editorial Board | 11/13/16 11:12pm


There were 716 million election-related posts on Facebook on Election Day. From comments to shares to likes and dislikes, the American population had a lot to say.

Almost a week after, things haven't slowed down much.

More than ever before, we are hearing about severed relationships and anger-fueled comments going back and forth on social media sites. Between family, friends and strangers, there's a constant elephant in the room that no one is hesitating to address.

Monmouth University in New Jersey held a study looking at 802 registered voters in September and found that "7 percent of voters report having lost or ended a friendship because of this year's presidential race." If we apply that to the estimated undergraduate population at Grand Valley State University, that means 1,750 students have lost a friendship because of the election.

Unfortunately, an amount of contention this high results in the creation of an overall negative social media community. Though it may seem harmless enough to call out your brother's friend's roommate for an article that he shared, this idea of attacking every little thing people on either side of the political aisle does is mirrored in the general population as well as the presidential office.

Across the nation, there have been instances of violence on both sides of the current political battle facing us post-election. In Indianapolis, three people were arrested and two police officers were injured after rocks were thrown at police during an anti-Donald Trump rally. In other cities, buildings have been smashed, cars destroyed and fires started to protest the Trump election. At the University of Michigan, a student wearing a hijab was told to remove her hijab or be set on fire. These behaviors are not acceptable.

Given the current back-and-forth status of present day social media, we are living in a fractured society, one that is in desperate need of unification. The fusion will be hard to come by, but it is necessary and will be worth the effort.

This is not to say all protests should end. In fact, we encourage speaking your mind and addressing the problems that are seen in society, however, there is a right and a wrong way to go about this. If you are going to be protesting against violence, make sure your protests aren't violent since that would make your protest hypocritical.

This is a time in history characterized by extreme emotion and tension, but burning down buildings and taking part in the hate or behavior that you are fundamentally opposing achieves nothing. In fact, violent protests or hateful words give the opposing side the right to degrade or write-off your point of view.

We need to bring back genuine, constructive conversation instead of playing the game of who can shout the loudest. Whether that be in the form of social media interactions or discussions in daily conversations, we need to take a serious look at how we are handling ourselves and how to come to a place where we are moving toward change instead of increasing the national political divide. Even though making this change may prove to be challenging, we owe it to each other and our nation. 

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