This week Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States, and while he has pledged to unify the country that seems highly unlikely. The national divide is simply too great, and tens of millions of Americans on both sides are dug in – unwilling to see anything from the other side’s point of view.
Nowhere is the nation’s deep divide more evident than across the social media platforms, where comments are increasingly reposted and shared.
Days before Biden takes office, the fear mongering has amped up from both sides, even as President Donald Trump has been silenced on Twitter and Facebook.
On Monday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) (R-Florida) took to the social media platform Twitter to suggest, “The far left wants to control the four corners of debate so they can constrain dissent and execute their socialist, left-wing agenda.”
Such commentary from an elected official does little to calm the tensions and could be seen to be fanning the flames.
Yet, it is the now the many left-wing voices that have been energized in victory and with an increase in anti-Trump rhetoric it seems impossible that any healing could happen anytime soon.
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On Monday, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) seemed to try to interject herself into the political debate once and called out President Donald Trump on social media, promoting her Podcast, “[email protected] and I agree: Congress needs to establish an investigative body like the 9/11 Commission to determine Trump’s ties to Putin so we can repair the damage to our national security and prevent a puppet from occupying the presidency ever again.”
Could any good come from this? Clinton’s supporters know how she feels already, and her detractors will only see this as gloating to make up for her stinging loss just over four years ago. It also comes off as a desperate way to get some of President-Elect Biden’s spotlight during a week that should rightfully be all about him.
Author and activist Don Winslow (@donwinslow) also further fanned the flames when he posted a video from his Don Winslow Films with the hashtag #TrumpsNewArmy, “NEW VIDEO #TrumpsNewArmy VOLUME UP On January 20th Donald Trump will no longer be The Commander in Chief. He will lose control of the U.S. Armed Forces and take control of a NEW ARMY.”
Such commentary is fear mongering at its worst, yet by Monday evening the hashtag had been more than 20,000 tweets, and some of the responses were upsetting to say the least.
One user, @ifindkarma tweeted, “‘We have to fight back against #TrumpsNewArmy… I’m proposing we form a citizen army. Our weapons will be computers and cellphones. We are monitoring extremists on the Internet and are reporting findings to authorities… IT IS UP TO YOU.’ It is up to ALL OF US, in this together.”
Such commentary certainly sounds like this is an “us” against “them” mentality – and while it could be seen to be directed simply at the extremists that stormed the Capitol Building, it fails to accept that 75 million Americans voted for Trump. Such calls to build an army against everyone who doesn’t accept Biden will only drive the nation further apart.
At least a few individuals out there on social media were able to see the damage that social media is doing right now.
Mike Moss (@_MikeMoss), former NSA senior executive, posted on Monday, “Two bitter and selfish life-long politicians undermining their party’s newly-elected President’s message of ‘Unity’ and ‘Healing’ just 48 hours before his inauguration.”
It is very hard to accept that we can have healing if we can’t move past the election results. While it now appears that there will in fact be a peaceful transition of power even in these difficult times, the arguing and infighting is only likely to grow louder.
At this point it would be more accurate to label platforms such as Twitter an “anti-social network” or “anti-social media” because it is becoming increasingly difficult to find anything remotely positive.