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How Does Social Media Affect Our Politics?

Political issues are the most contented issues in America. At the heart of these arguments is a core aspect of modern society: social media. 

Since social media’s rise to fame in the early aughts, people around the world have utilized the internet to state their opinions. Platforms such as Facebook and MySpace were the frontrunners of social media’s succession. Other platforms, which have developed widespread popularity in the past few years include Instagram, Snapchat, and much more recently, TikTok. Twitter, a social networking site most commonly referred to as a dumpster fire, is one of the best examples of an opinion-centered platform. Users flock to Twitter to post about a wide range of topics. These posts almost always result in arguments; some people even go as far as issuing threats. These scenarios are widespread on social media.

The opinions discussed on sites such as Twitter also range to other topics, such as pop culture, controversial values, and even basic human rights. However, a majority of the opinions are built around political parties and values, such as the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade or the January 6th riots.

On June 24th, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States voted to overturn a monumental case, Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade made abortion a federal issue and legalized safe procedures. The leaked draft of the vote was released on May 2nd. These events caused an uproar on social media platforms, where people both supporting and criticizing the decision voiced their opinions. Alexandria-Ocasio Cortez, also known as AOC, took to Twitter to share her perspective on the situation, saying, “People elected Democrats precisely so we could lead in perilous moments like these- to codify Roe, hold corruption accountable, & have a President who uses his legal authority to break through Congressional gridlock on items from student debt to climate. It’s high time we do it.” Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers shared her perspective as well. “I had an abortion in October of last year while I was on tour. I went to planned parenthood where they gave me the abortion pill. It was easy. Everyone deserves that kind of access.” On other social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram, users shared videos and posts of their perspectives on the Roe v. Wade ruling.

Another major political event that caused a wave of chaos on social media platforms was the Jan. 6th riot. On January 6th, supporters of the then-president Donald Trump attended a speech in Washington. About 15 minutes into the speech, Trump began to encourage those in attendance to march to the US Capitol and “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard, according to BBC News. Those that marched to the US Capitol engaged in violent behavior and the march went down in history as a “dark day for US democracy.”

Throughout the riot, then-president Donald Trump used Twitter as a means of releasing messages to those in attendance who marched to the US Capitol. He posted two tweets and a video that day. This served as yet another example of politicians utilizing Twitter as a campaigning platform. Trump’s Twitter account was banned the next day.

Overall, the United States is a pretty divisive country. Americans have argued over a wide range of topics throughout history, ranging from systems of government to foreign relations. Social media further encourages the polarization of our country through communication and interaction. There is simplicity in interacting online. The idea of “hiding behind a screen” leads people to feel as though arguing online is nothing more than a dispute between themselves and another, eventually left to waste amongst the range of other content online. This is not the case. When more and more people get involved in chain arguments, this can often lead to users going to extreme measures to make their point heard. These interactions are one of the main reasons why the United States is being tugged in half, split by perspectives. 

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that our country’s political diversity is what characterizes it. However, this could become a negative aspect. Social media may eventually have an even larger contribution to the United States’ divisiveness. This could one day lead to another secession, or even things much worse. We can prevent this future by finding peaceful ways to state our opinions and evenly distributing elected officials across our governments. In doing this, we can become a truly united States of America.

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