Politics torch social media friendships – 3 things you can do to avoid the carnage

In today’s intense political environment, many people share strong emotions on social media regarding the state of current affairs. Regardless of position on a given topic, social media message creators often share passionate feelings with their followers. When those words turn sharp, threatening, or become frequent unwelcome points of attack, how should a friend who disagrees with these words react?

Severe exchanges have occurred between strangers, close family members, and every type of relationship in between. The distance of the relationship is often disconnected from the intensity of individual responses. Barbs of increasing brutality sometimes lead to personal attacks that prompt one social media friend to sever that friendship with the other. There is often little in the way of remorse in the loss and more of a “my way or the highway” approach to dealing with the situation. Disagreement is not an option for some intense individuals who only value the response of like-minded followers. It’s an unfortunate battle scene with carnage spread across countless social media pages. What should one do when encountering relentless, aggressive verbal assaults that cause mental distress and a reluctance to log into social media?

  • One option is to scan the first few words of a person’s post as it populates on a screen and then quickly scroll past it if it contains offensive material. This will allow a person to avoid the bulk of the harsh message and move on to more positive content.
  • Another option is to unfollow an individual, but remain friends on social media sites such as Facebook. If the content an individual posts is unwelcome, but the person is still valued, unfollowing that individual will remove his or her content from a feed. The unfollowed person’s posts won’t be seen again unless another friend shares the content on his or her feed.
  • The final option is to sever the friendship and move on. An aggressive political enthusiast is likely to continue sharing that enthusiasm with followers. If it’s unlikely communication with that person will be desired in the future due to the consistent nature of the extreme content, then it might be best to walk away from the person and focus on friendships that don’t cause anxiety, depression, or anger.

Why not inform the passionate content poster about the way his or her material makes you feel? You could, but it might also make you a target of that person’s passion.

Some content creators take great offense not only when a person disagrees with his or her views, but also at the intense way the creator expresses them. The creator might question the dissenting person’s passion or intelligence. The creator might mock the offender’s words, views, age, gender, ethnicity, or profile photo. The creator might claim the offender is part of the problem, even if they share the same views.

Expressing a concern with any aspect of the creator’s material might be taken personally, and the creator feels compelled to defend his or her position by turning to aggressive words that will harshly shut down a dissenter’s opinion. A creator’s followers may also jump on the bandwagon to support the creator, adding to the harsh attacks against the dissenter.

You probably aren’t going to change the creator’s political opinion or style of posting if you express your concerns about the creator’s content, but you are likely to find yourself under fire for expressing your alternative point of view on that person’s page. The best way to avoid a creator’s content without becoming the target of attack is to distance yourself from that content and move on to something more fulfilling.