Everyone has one—that Facebook friend who posts offensive and sometimes offensive political statements, articles, and memes many times a day. You know-that friend who has a strong opinion on all political matters.
Even if you agree with their political views, you will cringe at the inflammatory way they express their views. If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. In fact, it is quite common to be friends with someone because of their political views.
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, nearly 20% of social media users block, cancel friends, or hide someone because of their political posts online.
This fact should not be surprising. For a long time, the level of political civilization has been declining, and people have lost patience with rhetoric. The increase in cyberbullying, humiliation, and political bullying is largely related to changing cultures and the ability to insult others on the Internet. These insults are usually carried out through the use of blogs, social media, etc.
Therefore, it is not surprising that people have become more free in using words. This has become very obvious in recent years as religious and political differences have become more and more unstable. Although many people have accepted the freedom provided by social media, there are also many people who have had enough.
Political bullying in the 2016 election
In the 2016 election, both candidates used verbal abuse and other bullying tactics. For example, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called those who supported the Republican presidential candidate “sad” and said they were incorrigible. At the same time, Trump labelled Clinton as a “nasty woman”, calling her “cunning Hillary.”
Even the supporters of each candidate adopted a bullying strategy. On social media, Clinton’s supporters referred to Trump’s supporters as racists, homophobics, xenophobes, and various other labels in order to humiliate them. On the Republican side, supporters chanted “build that wall”, chanted “lock her up” at the rally, and posted similar sentiments online.
Undoubtedly, unlike any other presidential campaign, the 2016 campaign and debate aroused anger. Although there is always some chaos during elections, the 2016 elections were more unstable and more personal.
Many people believe that due to the convenience and influence of social media, fierce disagreements are more common. More importantly, social media enables people to say things they would never say in person. This is largely related to the fact that they can be hidden behind the computer screen.
As a result, during the election season, people on social media not only rant about how they dislike candidates, but they often go further. They also complained that they dislike those who might support or oppose candidates. They often abuse, humiliate, label, and sometimes even threaten to use violence. This is the most serious form of cyberbullying.
Although most people will argue that people have the right to say what they think, is bullying through social media really free speech? Most people will argue that in some respects, vile posts, hashtags, and insults actually silence freedom of speech. As a result, people are afraid to speak their true thoughts honestly because they are afraid of being judged or labelled.
In addition, when people do not talk about their opinions or why they believe a certain way, they start to make assumptions about the beliefs of other people. This often leads them to believe that they are being judged. They also assume that people are dissatisfied with them or disagree with them.
However, they never talked about what they really believed, nor did they ask why their friends believed in them this way. As a result, there is a lot of hostility and frustration based solely on assumptions.
Dealing with annoying political positions
If you prefer to see posts about someone’s dinner rather than their monologue about political candidates, here are some reliable ways to solve the lack of digital etiquette on Facebook without losing your mind.
Spend a minute
When it comes to social media, it’s easy to respond before you actually think about it. Resist the urge to react rather than respond. Slow down and take a minute. Scroll through posts and read other content. The goal is to avoid posting equally inflammatory content, and then regret it.
Remember, even if you delete your comment later, you can never actually make it disappear. So step on the brakes. In the long run, a thoughtful response, or even no response at all, is a better approach.
Ask why you can not only deepen your understanding, but also broaden your own horizons. Be sure to ask in a way that will not put your friend in a defensive state. You don’t want them to feel that they have to prove to you that their feelings are reasonable. Instead, focus on the problem.
In addition, it is best to conduct such conversations offline and face-to-face. This way, you can actually see the emotions they are expressing instead of trying to assume you know by explaining what they say. Many explanations are lost online. When you only need to type a few words, suppose you know that someone’s feelings are risky.
If you don’t understand why your friends feel so strong, ask them. Learn how this affects their lives. Sometimes it helps to observe the world through different lenses.
Ignore, scan or continue
Sometimes, the best way to deal with daunting political posts is to simply browse them and move on, especially if the post is just abusive and tagged rants. A better option is to ignore them altogether.
Remember, you have no control over what your Facebook friends post online. You may not be able to change their minds, or even let them see your side. But you can control how you react. If reading their posts makes you feel annoyed, ruined your day, or makes you anxious, ignoring them is healthier for you. Don’t let others’ bullying statements affect you and your day.
Take advantage of hide or block options
Fortunately, Facebook offers some options to deal with the massive amount of political bullying that occurs online. One option is to “hide” or suspend your friends. With this option, you are still a friend, but you no longer see their posts in the news feed. Many people like this option because they don’t want the drama of unfriending someone online, but they don’t want to see their blatantly inappropriate posts either.
Of course, another option is to cancel the friendship with this person or even prevent them from becoming friends with you again. This option should only be used in extreme situations where you no longer wish to contact or establish a relationship with this person. Once you cancel or block your friends on Facebook, it’s hard to save the friendship.
Remember who you are dealing with
If you are friends with this person online, then you are likely to have some kind of relationship with this person. So when you see something disturbing, take a step back and look at the big picture. Is your friend in a difficult time now? Are these political positions related to larger problems in their lives?
Try to be empathetic and remember why you became friends with this person in the first place. However, if your friends’ political views define their identity as a person, and you know something about it, then you need to make some assessments. Is this person a poisonous friend you should avoid, or is their friendship worth the effort?
Set some restrictions
If you find yourself going too far with other people’s political posts and subtle online bullying, it might be a good idea to take a break. You need to protect yourself from the negative emotions these posts bring to you. Therefore, you may want to limit the time spent on Facebook or take a complete break.
Or, the answer may be to avoid participating in any political discussions online.
If you find that you absolutely must say something about all the negative comments on the Internet, please consider recording your responses, but do not post them. In this way, you release your frustration by formulating a response, but you have not offended anyone, nor have you angered your employer by actually posting.
Check your answer
Remember, there are many unverified articles and information on the Internet. Make sure that if you do respond to a political post, then your post is authentic and can be verified. You don’t want to contribute to the large amount of misinformation circulating on Facebook. Make sure that the content you post is true, accurate and not offensive.
Remember, your goal should be a conscientious poster, not just someone who shares sensational stories because of its shocking value. The last thing you want to do is to become like your disgusting political friend. After all, you need to protect your online reputation.