Americans Often Unfriend Over Politics on Social Media

Via PBS MediaShift:

As a teenager who was vocally opinionated about political issues, I often heard the cautionary refrain “Politics is not the topic of polite conversation.” That counsel must have been lost on me, since I find myself as an adult publicly airing my opinions as both the political correspondent for this blog and as a Democratic analyst periodically appearing on I understand the wisdom of that advice, however, and know that conversations about politics (like those about religion) often begin as well-intentioned contests of ideas but end as emotionally charged and intractable disputes.

A new study released today from the Pew Internet and American Life Project illustrates this point. It found that 18 percent of people who use social networking sites such as Facebook and Google+ have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone because of that person’s disagreeable political postings.

To determine whether this is simply a case of the online public steering clear of, um, impolite conversation or is broader evidence of political opinions abruptly ending meaningful relationships, one must dig a bit deeper into the data. Among the people who’ve responded to unwanted political posts by giving an online cold shoulder, nearly 70% have done so to a distant friend or acquaintance …

Read More: PBS MediaShift

14 Comments on "Americans Often Unfriend Over Politics on Social Media"

  1. JohnFrancisBittrich | Mar 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm |

    in other news, the sky is blue.

  2. To my credit, despite having done exactly that a couple of times, I have restrained myself to only unfriending the worst offenders…those who perpetuate gross inaccuracy and who seem to have a low standard for their political ‘announcements’. Example: if anyone feels like dropping the N-word about the current president instead of honestly critiquing his total failure with regard to civil liberties…then I have no need for that persons thoughts in my life or in my facebook feed. If they want to offer up some constructive criticism or an accurate insight into current problems from a perspective other than mine…fine…but part of our problem nationally, as reflected by the unfriending paradigm, is the total disregard for decency, the hasty generalizations mostly learned from television pundits, and the hateful speech that generally follows after people with no deeper understanding of an issue run out of quotes to regurgitate.

    I wasn’t ashamed of doing it either. I took time out to write a message to both people…explaining that it was nothing terribly personal…but that I did not want my daily break to be peppered with poorly thought out political buzzwords and catchphrases…and that if they wanted to sit down and really hash out the finer points of some serious political issues…I’d love to do so…but ‘bumper sticker’ knee jerk reactionary diatribes only hurt their cause…by making both them and their cause look bad…in public.

    Besides…maybe life needs a little more ‘unfriending’ and a little more public shaming. Liberal inclinations toward tolerance have led to a friendly environment with no consequences for anyone but those on the left…leaving the right free to get wilder and crazier and more violent in their rhetoric until very nearly the only things that get treated as inappropriate are calls for murder, flagrant racism  (as opposed to the usual lightly veiled racism) and support for rape. Let there be consequences for supporting the unsupportable. Let neo-cons be call traitors who have no love for country but only for heaps of loot at any cost. Let religious goons be called cultists and sociopaths who need prison not hugs. Let ALL politicians D and R alike be called cash-swilling whores who will suck off any passing corporation for a few measly bucks. Be UNCIVIL…because so far…civility has gotten us nowhere.

  3. When lies become polarized people are forced to pick sides. Chose this lie or that lie, who’s lie is better, who’s lie make you feel warm inside. But guess what, THEY ARE ALL FUCKING LIES! So neither person is right, both are wrong and both need to flip the proverbial board game over and wake the fuck up! 

    • VaudeVillain | Mar 23, 2012 at 5:00 am |

      There are degrees of wrong.

      For example, if I say that individuals using marijuana is detrimental to society, I am wrong, but only slightly, and at least the point is arguable.

      if I say that individuals using marijuana are the root of all social ills in the US, I am very much wrong, and I am quite likely to espouse positions and actions that will genuinely worsen those same social ills.

      If I state that Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East is a meaningful threat to the security and safety of “The West”, I am wrong, but only slightly, and there is some justification for holding that position.

      If I sate that Islam is a death cult bent on the absolute destruction of any who fail to adhere to the strictest interpretations of their holy texts and dogma, I am very much wrong, and I am quite likely to advocate foreign wars of intervention and curbing of civil liberties which truly are a legitimate threat to the security and safety of “the West” and the values for which that term ostensibly stands.

      Everything is a shade of gray, but to pretend that all shades are the same is and absurd folly.

    • Smudgeservices | Mar 23, 2012 at 9:10 am |

      Ron Paul was right then, and he’s right now. No lies there.

  4. I don’t have Facebook or Google+  So stick that in your pipe and smoke it! 

  5. I would not be friends with a Republican or Democrat anyway.

    • Jin The Ninja | Mar 23, 2012 at 2:31 am |

      only jedi can be trusted.

      • Darth Real | Mar 23, 2012 at 3:52 am |

        Not even the Jedi can be trusted… For the Empire!

      • Fact is that the US as it is is a subversion of every value it started to uphold. The United States was started by Free Thinkers, for Free Thinkers.

        George Washington himself stated that to belong to a Political Party was contrary to the aims of a Free Society. Parties themselves would involve intrigues and plots that would undermine the Greater Good.

        Those who consider themselves to be Republican or Democrat are complicit in treason.

        They should all be hung as spies.

        The production of 300 million body bags will spur the Economy.

        If the entire population of the United States is destroyed, the United States no longer has to worry about any problems.

        If the United States no longer has any problems, program complete.

        C: >

  6.  I think the real focus should be on blocking the paid trolls, People with hundreds of accounts paid to post PR=B$. Regardless of the digital social forum. Differing opinions as long as they are not violent or hateful generally should be accepted, paid trolls should be exposed and blocked as a matter of combined social effort.

  7. SushiHead | Mar 23, 2012 at 11:07 am |

     People still use facebook?

Comments are closed.