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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Tidd

Politics & Social Media: What Your Friends List Says About You

The last few months - or the last 3 1/2 years for some - have been extremely stressful. As I've said before, this election hasn't just been about the big, obscure issues like the national debt - it's brought to the forefront the values we each hold.

In other words...this time, it's personal.

Now, in the past I very rarely posted anything political on Facebook and I didn't like or comment on much. Over the last few months I've been a little more active and always on my personal page. I never post anything either way on any of the public pages I have.

And when I DO post something, I've very aware of who is liking and who is commenting and if you're could be in for a rude awakening.

When I see someone post something on Facebook about politics, I look to see when it was posted, how many people have liked or commented on it, and then I do something that a lot of people probably don't do. I look at how many friends that person has on the platform.

It is astonishing to me how many people have over 1,000 friends and they'll post something political and no one will like the post. That says to me that there's a disconnect somewhere and one of two things is happening:

  1. Either the majority of the people this person is friends with do not agree with what they're saying.

  2. What they're posting is too controversial - or maybe even incorrect - that none of their friends want to publicly associate with the post.

I currently have 747 friends on Facebook (I'm not someone who likes to "collect" friends for the hell of it - that's what my public pages are for). Generally, if I've posted something political, I get around 20-40 likes and it's usually the same group of people. I'm okay with that - they're people I know well beyond social media and I know that we hold many of the same values.

What is a mystery to me is how most people aren't connecting the dots between what they're posting and who of their friend group is supporting it. I see people with 1K - 2K friends who post things that not one person likes (or maybe 1-2 people do) or comments on and I find that odd. Let's assume that a small fraction of those people are friends that someone knows well; if they're not liking or commenting on the post, that could be an indication that a lot of the person's friends don't agree with what they're saying.

See the problem here?

We live in a society that encourages us to blame other people and not take any responsibility for ourselves. But, in this case, it's important to look at this and really think about what it means.

  1. Either we're hanging out with the wrong people.

  2. Or we're saying things that the people we value don't agree with - in which case we might need to look at what we're doing.

There is a meme going around Facebook that makes me want to punch a wall every time I see it. It says something like:

"Share if you haven't unfriended anyone because of politics.

Bet you can't do it."

I'll be the first to admit that my friends list on Facebook is stacked in my favor. Everyone on it is either someone who seems to hold the same values I do OR seems to be someone I can have a meaningful conversation with about opposing views.

But let me be clear: I have no problem unfriending people on Facebook. My friends list on Facebook, like in real life, should be a direct reflection of who I am. When I post something, I should see "likes" - if I don't, I need to either look at who my friends are or who I am. Because there's something off.

As we move further into what I believe will be a continuation of a difficult time, I encourage you to do the same. This is a perfect opportunity to really reflect on who we are and the company we keep and make some changes if we need to.

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