April 18, 2017
I joined Twitter in 2013 to be more informed.
I was a junior in high school at this point, and I thought that the highly popular social media site would be a good way to keep tabs on my city, my friends and the local news.
Then the 2016 general election happened, and my entire timeline was flooded with opinions.
In the past, I’ve posted and re-tweeted political opinions from journalists, friends, politicians and pundits.
I’m no stranger to posting political opinions I’m passionate about.
But politics on twitter, or any social media outlet, don’t tell the whole story, and students shouldn’t believe everything they read.
We can’t rely on social media to be the sole foundation for an opinion on political issues we barely understand.
We need to remember that someone’s opinionated posting on social media is just that: an opinion, not fact.
Solid opinions come from true experience and education, not a four-part rant on Twitter from angst-y teenagers who don’t know the first thing about the topic they decided to preach about.
Social media is a good tool for us to gather information. It’s easily accessible and typically tailored to what we want to see. Facebook specifically individualizes posts and news articles to you, according to Slate.
According to the American Press Institute, 88 percent of the millennial generation took their news from Facebook, while 33 percent read their news on Twitter and 21 percent on Tumblr in 2015.
But this number only accounts for news outlets – not tweets and posts from potentially misinformed young people.
We’re students; we critically think and analyze the situations we’re put in, or at least I hope we do. We’re taught to avoid sites like Wikipedia for research papers and essays, to carefully examine the bias that one source contains over another and even look at the URL of a site.
The same logic should apply when forming a basis for our politics when looking at our social media.
Of course we want to follow the ideologies we agree with on Twitter and Facebook, but to understand the full spectrum of a political issue we have to understand all sides of it.
While you may disagree with the left or right-winged political parties, you have to take the time to hear the other side of the argument. Reading 140 characters won’t do that for you.
Ignorance is not bliss in an environment of education.
Don’t make emotional decisions on political opinions based on a post’s appeal to emotion. Think logically and ethically about the post itself.
Does it represent all sides of the issue? Does it fairly and accurately present all parties involved without a bias?
Remember this the next time you’re about to retweet a political opinion. It could help you to be more educated and less ignorant.