Twitter divides nation into political battleground

By Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

Bummer, another rant about how social media is bad. Barf. But before I go back to my golf community, hear me out. All of social media, but especially Twitter, is a political battleground that has done far more to divide our nation than it has done to unite it.

Twitter is inaccurate because the entire platform demands that every post be no longer that 140 characters. A tweet blips onto a person’s feed and as they scroll through thousands of tweets, mine has to catch their eye. How do I do this? How do I communicate my position on the Syria situation, healthcare or the racial and ideological divisions in our nation right now? I must make sure I am either saying something incredibly witty, incredibly funny or incredibly insightful. Unfortunately, I am none of those things, and even if I was, the world is far more complex than a well-planned pun. My witty tweet about Donald Trump’s hair does nothing to represent my position on his immigration policy. Initiate an eye roll in the direction of people who use Twitter to complain about major news companies exaggerating stories for popularity.

Twitter is deceiving because I get to tailor my whole feed. If I use Twitter for education, I am going to choose to follow accounts that make me feel enlightened. If I use Twitter for entertainment, I am going to choose to follow accounts that entertain me. Naturally, this creates a feed that leans toward whatever position or ideal I already have. Imagine a large room of moderate and liberal authors, college students, celebrities, and goat pictures all at one time banging swanky glasses on tables screaming “Covfefe!” and you have my Twitter feed in June. By tailoring my feed to my preferences, I have created a false impression of diversity and prevented opposing points of view from breaking into my feed.

Twitter allows big voices to silence the smaller voices of millions. Remember the Obamacare debate this summer when we almost lost it because of John McCain, but didn’t, also because of John McCain? Twitter was a blast that day and I was millimeters away from actually gaining a real opinion on this issue. Then, entirely out of the blue, Donald Trump decreed that transgender citizens were no longer allowed into the military. Boom. The important healthcare conversation was gone and everyone decided to submit to the change of topic and be angry about something that was a very obvious distraction from the Republican loss.

Twitter is a battlefield because it separates human beings from the ideas that they present. If an argument breaks out, all any user will see are the words they type and a tiny picture. Why do we disrespect ourselves, our ideals and our right to speak by adding to the angry political noise on transient social media platforms? We are better off getting the political news we need from trusted news sources. Join me as I take my anger and confusion away from the confusion of social media. Let’s try to understand pain, suffering and societal chaos by having our discussions at coffee shops, ball games, over dinner or while walking to class.