“People are too political on social media these days.” “I’m tired of all the political posts.” “I’ve unfriended so many people on Facebook over politics.”
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. A Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults conducted just before the 2016 election found that political debate and discussion is a regular fact of digital life for many social media users. While some politically active users enjoy the heated discussions and opportunities for engagement, a larger share express annoyance and aggravation at the tone and content of the political interactions they witness on social media platforms.
A substantial share of social media users felt these platforms are uniquely angry and disrespectful venues for engaging in political debate. Some 40% of users agreed strongly with the notion that social media are places where people say things while discussing politics that they would never say in person (an additional 44% felt that this statement describes social media somewhat well).
At Silver Surfers Digital Media, we support more empathy in the digital space. We believe it’s okay to talk politics or religion in polite company. Just be civil. Not sure how to do that?
You’re in luck because in recognition of Safer Internet Day on February 7, Microsoft has launched a Digital Civility Challenge. The challenge calls on people of all ages to commit daily to four ideals and to share their pledge on social media, using the hashtags #Challenge4Civility and #Im4DigitalCivility.
Live the Golden Rule. I will act with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treat everyone I connect with online with dignity and respect.
Respect differences. I will appreciate cultural differences and honor diverse perspectives. When I disagree, I will engage thoughtfully and avoid name calling and personal attacks.
Pause before replying. I will pause and think before responding to things I disagree with. I will not post or send anything that could hurt someone else, damage my reputation, or threaten my safety or the safety of others.
Stand up for myself and others. I will tell someone if I feel unsafe, offer support to those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, report activity that threatens anyone’s safety, and preserve evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behavior.
Digital civility is everyone’s responsibility. In working with baby boomers and seniors who are often new to social media, Silver Surfers Digital Media pledges to teach civility as part of the basics of enjoying social media and being a good digital citizen. Join us and make your pledge today!