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A participant at a Tea Party Express rally displays a sign critical of the Obama administration on April 13, 2010 in Albany, New York. The Tea Party Express will head to Boston on Wednesday where the headline speaker at an afternoon rally will be Sarah Palin. The group will conclude its national tour in Washington, D.C. Thursday with a Tax Day rally at the Washington Monument.
It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself to be political or not, in today’s world, it is basically impossible to escape the political discussion. Even if you turn off the radio or TV to avoid the chattering class, you can’t escape the bumper stickers and yard signs. In the digital era, now Facebook has become the premiere haven for political commentary.
But that doesn’t mean individuals are engaging in civilized discourse and enlightening each other’s perspectives; instead it seems that people are mainly trumpeting their own opinions or blatantly attacking opposing views. Some users get so heated that they actually “unfriend” anyone who is on the other side of the political aisle.
Then, while the demagogues duke it out in the digital arena, there are the poor folks forced to watch all this on their newsfeed. When it seems like the entire country is trapped in partisan gridlock, this eternal war can be exasperating for those who are going online simply to check up on their friends or look at pictures from a family member’s wedding.
Has this happened to you? Are you one of the people posting your political agenda, or rallying against someone else’s? Does the whole thing just turn you off completely? Is Facebook as fun as it used to be? Have you gone so far as to block or unfriend someone for their political opinions? Why exactly? Were they posting incorrect facts, blatant lies, or just extreme viewpoints?
Let us know what gets your red (or blue?) blood boiling online.
Aaron Smith, Research Associate for the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, which has been tracking trends in social networking sites and politics in the months leading up to the election