Why Friends Don't Post Politics on Social Media

Why Friends Don't Post Politics on Social Media
Why Friends Don’t Post Politics on Social Media

When politicians offend you, they are not talking to you.

They are talking to the people who will likely vote for them.  Everything that Politicians say offends someone.

When politicians are on the campaign stump, the best politicians say things that draw headlines.  The media people pick these things from political speeches and write their headlines.  Conservative, liberal, and progressive media use headlines to draw subscribers.  They select political statements from politicians that can show how terrible stupid, ludicrous, and offensive a politician can be, and they post political statements that show how appealing an opposition politician can be.  They select the statements that appeal to the way that their readers want to view the news.

When the people in the media offend you, they are not speaking with you.

People enjoy reading and listening to media that says things that they like.  People do not enjoy reading or listening to things they don’t like.  Political media is more about what people giving people what they like to read hear than what they want to learn.

Just as do politicians, people in the media are speaking to their followers.  For grassroots conservatives, media like “The Blaze,” “Fox News,” Breitbart and “Drudge Report” make perfect sense.

According to The Washington Post, “People who read BuzzFeed, PoliticoThe Washington Post, and The New York Times all tend to be more liberal.”

Media that fit into a more progressive editorial view include Fair.org, CommonDreams, and Alternet.  HuffingtonPost has a section devoted to Progressive Media.

The rules for social media are the same as the rules for a dinner party.

For most people, social media is not a political forum.  It is like a dinner party.  Most people want to read things they enjoy and things that teach things.  They are there to enjoy each other’s company.

This MarketWatch article about Thanksgiving dinner is an example of the way most people treat the social aspect of social media. “6 things not to talk about during Thanksgiving dinner.”

“It is time to gather round the dinner table on Thanksgiving and navigate that annual land mine of well-meaning, polite conversation with family, friends, and sometimes perfect strangers…Tread lightly.  And keep the conversation easy and breezy.  If you want to avoid any seismic blowups, steer clear of these controversial, and sometimes just plain unsavory, dinner topics while you chow down and give thanks …” via MarketWatch

When people create social media profiles that are not political and then take political positions, they can affect their personal relationships and their careers.  

A recent casualty is Elise Labott, the CNN’s global affairs correspondent.  She is a reporter not a commentator for political views for CNN.  She tweeted, “House passes bill that could limit Syrian refugees.”  That statement is a fact.  Then she expressed her political opinion of the bill by using a metaphor.  “Statue of Liberty bows head in anguish.”  This second statement is a personal political view and not a fact.

CNN suspended Elise Abbott for two weeks for stepping out of her journalist role into the role of a political commentator.

She has since apologized: “Everyone, It was wrong of me to apologize.  My tweet was inappropriate and disrespectful.”  People who disagree with what she wrote will probably not forgive her, but the people who agree with her commented that she had done the right thing.  Based on her career as a successful journalist, I suspect that she just wants to move on.

Social Media 

The best practice is to follow not only the social guidelines but to stay in character.  Elise Abbott stepped out of character when, as a reporter, she tweeted a politically based opinion instead of what people expect from journalist who report the news, but do not comment on the news.

There are politicians on social media who create support for their careers through political statements on Facebook or Twitter.  These people are politicians.  Their profile says that they are political figures.  Their posts support their political views.  When people become friends with politicians on social media, these know what to expect from the relationship.  They expect and they get the politics that is consistent with the views of the politicians.

There are people on Facebook and Twitter whose profile shows them as friends connecting with friends or as business people who are seeking to promote their business.  They step out of character when their posts only support their political views:  Do these people only want friends, clients, or customers who are either Republicans or Democrats?  If they do, they are missing half of their potential customers.  I suspect that either these people do not understand the conflict between business marketing and political positioning or they just can’t resist the urge to say what they believe politically with the belief that they must take a stand.

A better approach would be to keep their personal profile built on their business just that, a personal profile built on their business by posting updates on either themselves or their business.  If they want a forum for their politics, I recommend that they create a page that represents their political views.

A way to demonstrate best practices in social media is to view the Facebook business pages of major companies.

Go to the Facebook pages of three of the largest companies in America.  They are no political views on these Facebook pages.  But there is information on their company developments and products.  Here are some samples:

George Caleb Bingham, via Wikimedia Commons,{{PD-1923}}

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