Donald Trump was not the only one who had something negative to post online on Election Day. Last Tuesday, Twitter feeds were exploding with commentary from people on both sides of the political spectrum. Thirty-one million tweets throughout the day were about the election alone, and people didn’t hold back their passion as they expressed their opinions, even if what they said was blatantly offensive to others. Americans utilized social media to follow journalists, pundits and politicians for election coverage this year like never before. Online audiences were able to follow the presidential debates, rallies and other campaign events in real-time.
On Tuesday, tweets flooded in at rapid fire after President Barack Obama was projected to be re-elected — about 9,965 tweets per second during the hour following the announcement. Some users chose to express their excitement, while others put the president and his supporters on blast. It’s perfectly acceptable for Twitter and Facebook users to voice their strong opinions and exercise the freedom of speech, but on these extremely public platforms, it’s always important to respect others in the process. Even if you are disappointed with the outcome of the election, making rude and insulting comments about those with different opinions won’t change anything. The only way we can function as a democracy is if we behave with civility and are open to working with the elected officials on both sides to find solutions for the nation’s pressing problems.
The country is far too politically divided as it is, and there needs to be more communication between leaders of both major political parties. But to do this, voters at the grassroots level, which includes people on Twitter and Facebook, must be respectful even in the midst of a passionate and divisive election.