Social networking causes drop in political IQs


Members of my generation have been told the same thing for years: we need to be more informed, especially about politics. We’re all tired of hearing it. Many college-age kids find politics confusing, mundane and sometimes overwhelming, and find politicians dishonest and hypocritical.
All of these things are true at times.
In the past few years, I’ve seen a shift among my peers when dealing with political topics on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter: it seems like they actually do care. But, and this is important, it doesn’t appear that most actually care enough to truly become informed on the issues; they see a friend with the same political leanings as themselves post an article, skim the article – or, you know, at least read the headline – and repost it.
While I lean toward the far left in my political beliefs, I am not only targeting conservatives on this one – although I have to say, the large number of people who tweeted about moving to Canada when the Supreme Court ruled “Obamacare” constitutional was extremely amusing.
My liberal friends are also guilty. About a week ago, many of my Facebook friends posted an article from The Advocate entitled “HOUSE APPROVES: Does Kansas Law Legalize Discrimination?” Sound familiar? It’s about the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act which, according to, died in a house committee on June 1. The article is clearly dated March 29. So why did so many people repost it, mad about this “new” bill?
Social networking is a way for people to act informed without actually doing the work to become informed. This encourages people to hold unwavering, uninformed opinions on political issues and upholds the idea of voting along party lines. I think the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is an excellent example of this.
As I’m from a small town in Kansas, I have many friends on Facebook that follow the conservative leanings of their parents. Many of them reacted in outrage when the June 28 ruling was announced, posting Fox News articles and pictures of Uncle Sam bending over because “here comes Obamacare.” Few, if any, seemed to understand that this act may actually mean they would have health care coverage once they’re unable to be on their parents’ plans. They just parroted the beliefs of their parents and their friends and, as I mentioned above, one even lamented the fact that he would now have to move to Canada. In case you haven’t figured out the joke yet, Canada has universal health care.
So what’s my point? People have blindly listened to their parents and friends on political issues for years. Now social networking makes them feel even more self-righteous because they have articles to back up their beliefs, even if they barely read past the headline.
So far, the most useful information I’ve found about the health care act is an interactive article by The Washington Post, cleverly titled “What does the Supreme Court’s health-care ruling mean for me?” Did someone post this on Facebook? No. I did a good old-fashioned Google search. My point is, do your own research and actually get informed instead of just pretending. If you’re not willing to do this, don’t be surprised if I hide you on my news feed.

Laura Thacker is a May 2012 graduate in English and women’s studies. Please send comments to