Social media has taken over politics

Junior Courtney Cohn, The Pitchs first ever female sports editor.

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Senior Anjelica Marzan browses through her social media. Due to the accessiblity of their accounts, politicians and other public figures need to choose their words more wisely. Photo by Danielle Limonchik

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and numerous other social media platforms have consumed our lives. Scrolling through feeds, posting photos and updates and commenting on posts have been integrated into people’s daily routines. Social media used to just be about connecting with friends online, but now it is used on a larger stage: politics.

The first thing people most likely think of when they hear the words “social media” and “politics”, is President Donald Trump’s Twitter. Every day, multiple news networks analyze his tweets and people constantly discuss his latest posts.

Social media platforms can and should be used to unite people to fight for important causes and support others, yet Trump’s twitter does not seem to reflect these values a lot of the time.

Past presidents have not had the presence and constant attention to social media that Trump has and for good reason. Even though he was president in this age of social media, Barack Obama did not have a Twitter account and did not need one. He was able to effectively express his views respectfully and firmly during speeches and public appearances, like other presidents have in the past. However, it would not have necessarily been a bad thing if he did have a Twitter account. The fact that our president is on social media is not the issue, it’s how it is used.

Insulting and berating people on a public platform, so millions of people can discuss it, is not the way social media should be used. Having a different political affiliation or has different viewpoints does not mean others are wrong and you are right. There is a fine line between expressing views and opinions, and being disrespectful towards others, especially online.

People get into political disputes online all the time, which encourage important dialogues and understandings of other people’s opinions. However, when civil discussions transform into attacks on the character of political candidates, government officials and others simply to humiliate and bring them down, the line is drawn.

President Trump has misused his influence on social media. Many people passionately agree with this point and many passionately disagree. Disagreements aside, one thing that can be said is that there have been many tweets that should not have been posted. He has posted scathing tweets about many different people, ranging from Alec Baldwin, who portrays him in Saturday Night Live sketches, to athletes like Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, to late night talk show hosts. This is not productive and only encourages others to tear people down others instead of offering their support. This does not just impact the people he posts about, it influences everyone who reads the tweets. Many U.S. citizens look at the president, Congresspeople, and other leaders as an influence, so while one post may not seem like a huge deal, it means everything.

It seems the scale of pros and cons of social media in politics has decidedly tipped to the negative side, but it is important to not forget all of the ways people have connected and made incredible change through online interactions. Most notably, the Women’s March and March for Our Lives have been organized and advertised through social media. People came together and posted photos and messages that promoted equality, political unity, and speaking up for what is right. People could feel like they were not alone in their fight for equality and realized there were so many others who had a fuel for change like they did. It is so incredibly important that celebrities and all of us, can use our platforms, big or small, to spread positivity and support.

Also, whether it be campaigning, listening to what their constituents believe in, or spreading their message quickly and efficiently, many candidates and officials can use social media to connect with many voters in ways they could not before.

While this may seem like an utterly unattainable thing to maintain, it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t have to be nerve wracking for someone to post their thoughts on a political issue, as they worry about what words people will respond with. We can change the way we use social media and hopefully the leaders of our government will too.