Posted March 21, 2012 9:59 am by with 7 comments

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What have you heard a million and one times in business? Don’t discuss religion or politics. Generally, that’s a good rule of thumb because it doesn’t take much to set off a firestorm if you have landed on the wrong side of a customer’s or prospect’s political or theological point of view.

It appears that the same applies for social media as well. Here in the US, we are about to enter what promises to be a very spirited election season as President Obama seeks to be re-elected while someone from the other side (as of now TBD) tries to knock him out of office. Needless to say, tempers are flaring and we are still a solid six months away from the election itself. I for one wish it were over right now but that’s beside the point.

Well, if you feel strongly about politics you may want to be prepared for some social media backlash. A Pew Internet research project (as reported by eMarketer) reveals just how politics and social media can make for some rough sledding in “friendships”.

Granted this doesn’t happen as the norm since most people are reasonable enough to allow friends differences in political opinion. I know that the folks I am friends with in the online space run the gamut of the entire political spectrum from far left to far right. I tend to stay out of the fray because there are many other battles that are actually worth fighting if necessary. Political stances are not one of them for me personally.

Just a friendly reminder when you are gearing up for a political back and forth with your buddies. Not only do you risk alienating friends but you could also make a prospective employer a bit wary of bringing you on board since some are now looking for you to log on to your Facebook account during the job interview process. Chew on that idea for a while. That situation probably deserves a post of its own.

SO how do you handle politics and the social media world? Do you simply say “damn the torpedoes” and let the social media chips fall as they may or do you show some restraint? It’s funny how quickly the idea of being completely open can become much less attractive when there are real relationships on the line.

What’s your take?

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  • Brenda

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Is this research saying that liberals are the least liberal (by like a 2 to 1 ratio) when it comes to people who disagree with them? I thought the whole idea of being a liberal was to be more open to others’ opinions, lifestyle choices, etc. no?


    • Dave

      No. The liberals are a nasty bunch of people who want to censor others. I have seen this firsthand and this research proves that point.

      • Nathan

        We aren’t generalizing at all here. Nope, not one bit.

  • Cynthia Boris

    This is especially important for those who are selling themselves as their brand online. Look at the number of big names that have taken a hit because of politically incorrect statements and activities. Talking politics is likely to land you in a similar boat.

    If you’re only for business, politics shouldn’t even come up — unless, of course, that is your business.

  • Two more reasons to not discuss politics in social media (unless you work for a campaign or have a political job):

    –You may turn off a potential consulting client

    –To many people, the debate is tiresome and everywhere (robo calls, TV ads, etc.) and they just want relief

    I stay as far away from politics as possible for business, even if I’m talking to someone who I know has the same political views as I do.

  • I am really impressed by this blog! Very clear explanation of issues is given and it is open to everyone. I have read your post, really you have provided such a great information about it.

  • My rule, Why get involve in other matters? Why talk about others, especially politics? I don’t want to get involve in these conversation where there is a chance that my friend say , You are wrong, you don’t know about this black sheep. SO better is just make friends, rather then loosing them