Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Politics of Social Media

When you're connected to someone on a social media site like Facebook, Twitter, or even LinkedIn, and the person uses the service regularly, it doesn't take long to learn some new things about the person that you might not have known, including likes, interests, and affiliations.

This can create some interesting dynamics and bedfellows, especially when you're interacting online with people you haven't connected with in a long time (like high school or college friends) or have only met professionally. To me, this is most acute when I begin to parse that someone I'm connected to is my complete opposite, politically.

This got me wondering -- what do people think and do when they notice their connections have different politics? Do people disconnect from people if someone's at the other end of the spectrum? Do they keep the connection but ignore the person? Conversely, are social media sites rare vehicles where we actually talk to and listen to each other? It's interesting and complex, and you wonder at the implications as we use these services more and more.

For my part, I like being connected to people with a diversity of opinions and viewpoints. I enjoy good-spirited oppositional debate, and I think a healthy back and forth bolsters us all and prevents ossification. I would never personally disconnect from someone because of the person's politics unless the person advocated violence or engaged in some form of hate-mongering.

1 comment:

  1. You're one of those Internet-usin' elitists, aren't you? I hate those people.