Be respectful online, especially during an election year

Staff Editorial: The opinion of the El Vaquero staff members

Be+respectful+online%2C+especially+during+an+election+year

Photo Illustration by Aanya Sharma

More than half of the world currently uses social media, as 4.57 billion people now have access to the internet. Social media is a great place to communicate with family and friends and is now one of the primary sources for people to get their news but there is an ugly side to it.

Social media consumes our lives as we spend every waking moment checking the latest updates. The internet is so readily available to us, and so widely used, but there still lacks some basic etiquette while online. It is up to each individual to make sure that they are practicing social media etiquette and becoming good digital citizens, especially during an election year. 

Just as we’ve been taught to be respectful to people in person, it is equally important to maintain social etiquette online and be respectful of other’s opinions. A recent study by weforum, found that 37% of people had been active in a political debate on social media in one way or another. In a time of extreme polarization of views, it is important to remain open-minded that others have different opinions. Let’s not get in the habit of contributing to the toxic culture social media has created. 

In a generation where technology has been at our fingertips, we are able to readily consume news at any given moment. However, while online we are often not seeing eye to eye or even willing to try to communicate with the other side. Rather than taking the time to research both sides and many choose to only consume news from sources they agree with. According to the Pew Research center, when it comes to choosing a media source for political news, conservatives orient strongly around Fox News. Whereas, consistent liberals, on the other hand,  were more likely to consume news from National Public Radio, MSNBC and the New York Times. We must remember that it is important to use a variety of sources to be well informed about current events.

Although you may feel inclined to chime in to defend your stance/candidate, remember to consider both sides, validate good points and seek always to understand and challenge rather than “win.” According to former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris, “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product.” Let us not fall victim to filter bubbles, as we are now spoon-fed a customized feed based on our previous queries that are sold to third party companies. Because of this, our “evidence” we gather to defend our arguments are awfully one-sided in favor of our own beliefs. 

As technology advances, it is no longer a tool that betters our livelihood, instead, it is a demanding demon that manipulates us. The next time you open social media and see a post you disagree with, make sure you remain respectful of other people’s opinions.