Human Interest Politics

How Should We Be Expressing Our Political Opinions?

Online political discussions are becoming increasingly ugly. So how can we solve this?

Mehrdad Damavandi

Naked Political Blogger 

 

Setting the Scene

I can’t tell you the right way to express your political opinion. However, I can tell you how they should not be expressed. In recent years, especially with the rise of social media, the ability to express  a political opinion has become much easier; unfortunately as a consequence there has been a rise of abuse. This has built up an almost toxic political atmosphere in recent years and has put people off politics.

Expression of Opinion Through Abuse

 In the past year, there has been a rise in abuse towards those who have differing political opinions. The University of Sheffield found that in the run up to the 2017 General Election, there were 840,000 abusive tweets towards politicians. The study also found that four politicians ( Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, and Jeremy Corbyn) alone received 50% of the total figure. This was inflamed by recent terror attacks such as the Manchester Bombings, such statistics are unacceptable and what is worrying is that figure doesn’t even cover the potential abuse ‘political influencers’ receive on this one social media website alone.

Its Consequences

It would be ignorant to not recognise the problems with the ‘incorrect expression’ of a political opinion. It creates a toxic environment where those with differing opinions will always feel like they will not be able to express them. But as Rhys Kristian Hart says in a tweet, ‘one should not have to avoid abuse because it shouldn’t happen in the first place’.

It does not allow for diverse opinions and the expression of new ideas. Of course, this does not mean that some views are more accepted than others in society. But expressing an opinion in unpleasant ways will only fall on deaf ears. It will not encourage debate but only a shouting competition which neither benefits nor educates anyone. It will not allow for people to understand different political opinions and this can only hinder democracy.

Is There a Right Way?  

There is no definite or single way to express your political opinion as everyone differs. Nonetheless, we have seen that there is a wrong way to do so. Proclaiming that your political opinion is superior to another’s by hurling abuse and profanity at others is wrong. It only portrays you as ignorant, arrogant, and uneducated, no matter how valid your point may be.

We live in a democracy where everyone’s views must be listened to, not matter what they are. Reasoned and composed debate in the heat of a political argument is always beneficial. It allows us to be more civil towards one another but it is also the best way for the person on the other side to understand a different point of view. Yet, abuse towards politicians and those with a differing political belief is prominent. We must not allow this to be the norm, but an anomaly- or else diversity and expression of opinion in our democracy will begin to die out.

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