Inspirations, deep thoughts, surprising insights, or random ideas on how social media intersects PR.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t care about politics. In fact, as I’ve gotten older (an obviously wiser) I have learned that my opinion about our political leaders is incredibly important, and I should express that viewpoint by voting whenever I can. That being said, in the last 6 or 7 years that I’ve spent using social media, I have never understood why people will purposefully share their political beliefs in order to spark a controversial conversation amidst the comment section. In The Content Code, Schaefer specifically notes that people tend to Like posts over sharing them in order to prevent upsetting their followers/friends, which is exactly the motto I follow when I’m browsing my social media accounts. And apparently that’s not so uncommon anymore.
In 2014, Pew Research Center conducted a study about the “spiral of silence” as it refers to social media. The “spiral of silence” is when people do not share their beliefs on public issues when they feel that “their own point of view is not widely shared” (Hampton et al. 2014). The research concluded that people were even less willing to discuss these opinions on social media, but rather would have a conversation face-to-face. Social media was designed to offer an alternative platform for discussion on social and other issues, and some do use it for that purpose, but many still refrain.
It’s not just on social media either. The research concluded that, in general, “social media users were less willing to share their opinions in face-to-face settings.” Clearly we now live in a society where people no longer feel that their opinions should be heard, let alone considered valid. It’s no wonder that the millennial generation has a tendency to refrain from voting in political elections. I can only hope that the trend of keeping quiet continues shift, and that more and more people remember that, at least in America, we do have the freedom of expression, and that is not something we can let go to waste.
Hampton, Keith, Lee Rainie, Weixu Lu, Maria Dwyer, Inyoung Shin, and Kristen Purcell. “Social Media and the ‘Spiral of Silence'” Pew Research Center Internet Science Tech RSS. 26 Aug. 2014. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.