When we were children, bullies threatened us to give them our lunch or money. As adults, bullying is much less straightforward. One form of bullying now is political cyberbullying, where online accounts try to threaten others for their political views.
These cyberbullies resort to insults, belittling and public humiliation to force individuals to accept their beliefs or silence them.
Politics have invaded personal social media spaces, and what was intended to be a place for connection and sharing happy moments has become a boxing ring. The louder or meaner the better, and the most disrespectful win the match.
Political bullies can ruin someone’s life and cause people to lose their jobs and reputation due to false accusations. Some Trump supporters are being accused of being homophobic and racist. Some Biden supporters are being accused of being socialists and of wanting a free ride in life.
No one wants to be accused and hated for being homophobic or racist, so people hide in an oyster and withhold their opinions.
Once the wrong information is out, it spreads like wildfire.
Sharing political views is exercising our freedom of speech, and people should respect it regardless if views are contrary to their beliefs. However, posting personal political preferences on social media can be dangerous for one’s social standing. People get harassed and humiliated in public and through private messages.
Social media sites are a factor in political polarization and the division of Americans in contentious issues.
We are living in a time when people don’t fact-check. Instead, they believe what they perceive or what someone else interpreted.
It appears there isn’t a place for civil debates where one feels safe to voice their opinions anymore. It is becoming common to screenshot someone’s comments on social media and look for this person’s workplace to send their boss a screenshot.
This practice is adding up to all the stressors people are going through.
The phrase “delete me if you don’t agree with me” is becoming very popular. Respect for diversity is a thing of the past. What’s trendy in 2020 is to unfriend, block or hide those whose personal beliefs are different from ours.
A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that almost 20 percent of social media users have blocked, unfriended or hidden someone because of their political posts.
This kind of behavior far-reaches consequences for democracy and civil relationships.
Political bullies threaten democracy. Citizens are supposed to have the freedom to vote for whomever they want or to not vote at all.
Social media is integral to people’s lives, and it has numerous advantages. One of those advantages is getting involved in debates and exchange of information.
But when debates become fights, we devolve into the eternal and nonsensical fight between Republicans and Democrats, which divides the country’s citizens.
We must all defend our right to speak our minds and refuse to be silenced.
A popular tactic used by political bullies is to misrepresent one’s argument to make it easier to attack.
“Democrats don’t want gun control, they want to abolish the Second Amendment.”
“If Trump doesn’t pay taxes, clearly Republicans think no one should pay taxes.”
We all must make use of our wisdom and common sense to choose a candidate. Let’s not give in to the manipulation.
Mature people won’t try to shove their political agendas down your throat. They will understand that choosing for whom to vote is a personal choice, and it is the exercising of democracy.
The first step to voting smart is to study each candidate’s biographies, experience, what they support and what they are against. Vote Smart is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide unbiased information about political candidates. Citizens must make informed voting decisions.
Let’s not forget that there are more than two political parties. It is time to give other parties a chance.
Our vote should be decided with our brains and not with our hearts. However, we must think about the common good without leaving behind our personal interests.