Guest column by Lauren Chouinard, senior PR and advertising major.
Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook can tell my political affiliation just from looking at my timeline. I am a bleeding-heart liberal and hardcore Obama supporter. As a feminist, gay-rights activist, and the daughter of a small business owner, I would constantly post pictures and links to articles related to the election, and how disappointed I felt about the way the Republican Party was handling issues that were so near and dear to my heart. These articles were often met with overwhelming support from my liberal friends, but there was always that ONE conservative friend that had to chime in.
Growing up in the bay area, I really don’t have that many conservative friends. Maybe six, tops. Still, they were always the most vocal about the things I posted on Facebook. Every time I would get a notification that they commented on one of my posts or statuses, my blood began to boil. My whole body had a reaction to the anger I felt when people remarked about how “Obama was destroying the country and leading us into socialism.” I felt as though none of them were listening to a single word I said, even when I was trying to be rational and present facts. At the end of the day, I had a massive headache and a wall post of 50 comments—and for what? It’s not like I was able to change their minds.
I wasn’t the only one fighting a political war on social media. The day of the election, I watched a couple who had been together for two years break up over a Facebook status, because one partner voted for Romney, and the other for President Obama. I saw comments like, “If you voted for Romney, we are NO LONGER FRIENDS.”
I saw animosity, anger, and sadness from so many people, polarized by their views, torn apart because none of us could find a common ground. And for a moment, I let everything about the election go. This constant fighting is what was scaring me more than anything.
Just last week, Hurricane Sandy ravaged our shores in the Northeast and destroyed homes. For a moment, I saw people from all walks of life come together to pray and lend support for the hurricane victims. The day after, everyone was back to fighting again. Why is it that a natural disaster can bring us all together, and moments later, have the words of two candidates tear us apart? We must remember that at the end of the day, we may not always agree, and that’s OK. That’s our right as Americans. But the beauty of it all is that we are still “one nation, under God, indivisible.” We shouldn’t take politics personally and let it ruin our relationships. We must unite as a country, not divide. Only if we work together can we make this country the best it can be.