How to survive social media during this election season

Oct 10, 2012

If you haven’t figured it out by now, not everybody in your virtual circle of friends shares the same political beliefs as you.

Jennifer White talks with Cliff Lampe, Assistant Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He gives some tips on how to survive social media, especially Facebook during this election season.

Take a vacation from social media

“If for instance, you were ever thinking about trying out Pinterest, now might be the time because there you’ll see a lot of pictures of cupcakes and dresses, and very few political campaign messages. Or if you were thinking about trying out Instagram and sharing your photos with people. So, this might be a great time to try another site and explore that for a little bit,” Lampe said.

Hide posts if you must, but try to embrace political differences

Lampe says if you just can’t take the political hyperbole anymore, Facebook users can create a special list. Put all the friends who are posting political messages in it, and then just hide the list for a while.  “And if it’s really bothering you, you can hide those messages. But I think the majority of people I’ve talked to about this issue, one of the things they say is, lean into it. Take this opportunity to really engage with viewpoints that are not necessarily your own.”

Think outside the bubble

“There's a line of research that says that we shouldn't live in what we call the filter bubble. That is, that you shouldn’t necessarily just hear opinions that confirm your already held beliefs. And with the way that the current mass media structure is, where we have a splintered media and everybody can pick a news source that provides information that they ‘already know to be true,’ then Facebook actually is one of the few places where you are going to be exposed, almost on purpose to information that can disconfirm what you believe. And that’s an important thing for the health of democracy. It’s important for the evolution of our political thoughts and processes, and for actually accomplishing what we want to through the political process,” he said.

During this election season Lampe suggests trying to, “enjoy it” and take this opportunity to listen to what other people have to say.