Why You Should Stop Unfriending People With Different Political Views

The politics that don't bind.


Disagreements in politics have the potential to end relationships. It's a subject where most of us tread lightly. But on Facebook, many of us let our political flags fly, which may rub some people the wrong way.

A recent study published in the Journal of Communication by researchers at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University have evidence to show during politically charged conflicts, you may find yourself unfriended.

We've all resisted the urge to comment on relatives' and friends' walls at some time or another, knowing it will only result in an awkward, tense silence during get-togethers for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Researchers conducted a survey of 1,103 Israeli Facebook users between 3-7 September 2014 — a politically charged time in the Israel-Gaza conflict. During that period, half of the users were more active on Facebook and 16 percent of users said they unfriended someone on the social networking site because of their political comments.

Those who unfriended someone tended to be among the “more ideologically extreme and more politically active Facebook users,” they wrote. However, unfriending someone just because they have a differing political view may be locking us into an ideological bubble and deprive ourselves from another point of view.

“People unfriend people who have different political views to theirs,” said lead author Nicholas John to PsyPost. “We already know that Facebook and search engines provide us with a feed and search results that are tailored to us. By unfriending we are further contributing to the formation of echo chambers and filter bubbles. More than that, these findings suggest that the people most likely to unfriend are younger, more politically active, more active on Facebook, have lots of Facebook friends, and have more extreme political views — these are important people in online discussions.”

Push yourself out of your comfort zone. I make it a point to do so, even though it often means I have to look at a feed of memes comparing Hillary Clinton to a pile of poop.

***

Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN / Getty Staff

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