The social media space is a place where people talk about everything. I have seen people talk about very intimate details on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks. I have also seen people talk about issues and opinions that once used to be private, such as financial debt and infertility. I think that, especially with this being an election year, talk about politics is very hard to avoid. We live in a politically charged era so many people are going to social media to express their thoughts about favorite (and least favorite!) candidates.
I am no exception to this trend. While I try not to go overboard about politics, I do make political comments and send out political tweets from time to time. Sometimes people reply and other times my reflections simply get sent out to cyberspace. I enjoy political debate and occasionally engage in it online because I think that sharing ideas and having conversation is very important to informed voting.
A few days ago, I saw a photo in my Twitter stream that included a few hashtags, including a political hashtag that basically implied that this person was against a particular candidate. Attaching hashtags to the tweet meant that if anybody searched for the terms in the hashtags, the particular tweet would come up in search results. I thought that was clever and purposeful. To contribute to conversation, I sent a reply to the tweet and said that I thought that the photo was cute, even though I support the candidate that this person opposes. I, too, included a hashtag, which is common practice on Twitter.
The next time I checked my social networks, I saw that the person who originally posted the tweet had corresponded with me both via email and on my Facebook Timeline asking me to remove my tweet because she did not want to be associated with the particular candidate and did not want to be found in a hashtag search. I replied to the email but did not acknowledge the Facebook post. What transpired after that was, essentially, a heated conversation about free speech and branding.
I still maintain that very respectfully replying to political content with views of my own is completely legitimate. Likewise, I welcome (and expect) conversation when I post or publish political content. In my opinion, that is one of the beauties of a) the freedom of speech and b) the authenticity of social media.