Election tension doesn’t excuse misinformed sharing


Tribune News Service

President Barack Obama stumps for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on the eve of the election at the Ray L. Fisher Stadium Monday, Nov. 7, 2016 in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

By Shankari Sureshbabu , Columnist

sureshbabushankariI’m not going to lie, I was bandwagoning the Chicago Cubs when they won the World Series. I watched the game, gasped in excitement and cheered with 300 of my closest friends on Green Street after the win. To be fair, my parents never watched baseball; where was I supposed to get my undying genetic loyalty?

Anyway, I felt kinda bad about the whole bandwagoning thing, but who’s really going to care? I’m not Hillary Clinton. Because if she cheers on the Cubs, her hometown team, pictures of her in a Yankees cap and the word “traitor” get plastered everywhere across the internet minutes later. It’s a rule.

Now for the record, I looked up Clinton’s baseball loyalties, and she said she grew up a Cubs fan and “followed the Yankees because she needed an American League team.” But people were so quick to share pictures of her, deeming her as an untrustworthy traitor simply because of who she rooted for.

The world can be a polarizing place. People are constantly lying in the judgmental weeds on social media, ready to criticize you for which memes you like, or whether you think Robin should have ended up with Barney or Ted. Now some of those opinions are more important than others — Robin and Barney, ride or die — but often we don’t take into consideration the other side of the argument — Robin and Ted were really cute together in season two.

Now, I hopefully don’t have to inform anyone about the basis of the most interesting election of all time, lovingly dubbed, “The Season Finale of America” by some. But as the election draws to its final days, it’s never been more obvious how influential social media has been.

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    This year has been home to one of the most polarizing elections ever, so people definitely have a lot to say and aren’t afraid to share it, whether it’s your slightly racist aunt or your social justice warrior friend from sophomore year of high school who always goes a little too far.

    Sharing thoughts is what social media is made for, and it’s a great way to bring important things to the center of public debate. However, we have to be smarter about what we read and post about on social media. For one, it’s easy to take anything out of context and spin it to fit your agenda. One recent example was when Donald Trump called out President Barack Obama for yelling at a Trump supporter during a speech.

    Trump hasn’t proved to be the most reliable source by any measure, but the actual video, if you watch it, showed Obama telling the crowd that the protester was just supporting his candidate and was not doing anything wrong.

    Trump supporters who only listened to Trump retell this story see Obama as a man who attacked a poor fellow supporter, when in reality that wasn’t exactly what went down.

    Before we can see the full picture, we jump to a conclusion, pick a side and judge anyone who disagrees. This is true about a lot of issues on the table, but with the information we have at our fingertips (thanks, Google!), it shouldn’t be so normal.

    These kind of things happen every day on such a large scale. We’re given clickbait headlines by biased sources or slanted tweets from misinformed individuals and make decisions about important issues based on these fragmented stories.

    Everyone is busy, and yes, this election has been quite the roller coaster ride and there seems to be a hot-off-the-press scandal to hear about every day. The issues on the table are complicated and have a lot of facets to consider before anyone should make a decision, but if you make a stupid split-second decision because you saw some funny meme about it on Facebook, you’re doing a disservice by reducing the importance of actual influential topics.

    So next time, before you comment, share and especially before you vote, actually take the time to know what you’re talking about.

    Shankari is a sophomore in LAS.

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