How to share your political beliefs online (and still keep your friends)

With the 2022 national election less than a month away, you may be experiencing an uptick of friends posting their political opinions on social media (an understatement).

After the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy (CoC) for the nation’s top positions, Filipinos have been posting non-stop about their support of certain bets, sharing why they believe that their preferred candidates will be the best hope for the country.

Unfortunately, the fiery topic has been causing a divide even between friends and family members and it has become commonplace to find posts from people severing ties over strong political opinions.

If you are wondering why Filipinos have been going to the extremes to fight for the leaders they believe in, its only natural, according to Dr. Edwin Lineses, a professor from the Social Sciences department at De La Salle University-Dasmarias.

Lineses, who earned his degrees in Political Science, Public Administration and Socio-Anthropology, has been teaching about politics, the Philippine Government, the Constitution, Economics, Sociology, and Anthropology since 1997, so he knows what he’s talking about when he says that there are several factors that may have contributed to the phenomenon.

“The surge (in interest) can be attributed to a couple of reasons. One maybe because many are already disgruntled on what’s happening to the country (or government) at this juncture. Two, people are just home and may have ample time to mull over lots of things, including politics. These keep people have something to do at the very least. Three, the surge in the use of social media facilitated the exchange and sharing of info faster than ever. The advent of platforms and the necessity of having internet (used in work or schooling) made things easier. All of these are noticeable and they will continue to be so in the coming days,” he explained.

Lineses said though, that even though politics is a polarizing subject from the beginning, it does not have to doom your relationships.

“Disagreements in politics is inevitable to begin with. Politics is essentially polarizing and we all have our fair share of belief on almost all political matters. Handling disagreements then presupposes respect for differences of opinions and acceptance of diversity. These mean political maturity and going beyond mere personalistic issues. It’s an acceptance that we can disagree without being disagreeable,” he said.

From a mental health perspective, DLSU-D Student Wellness Center’s Agnes Berosa-Gibas, RGC, RPm said that the youth, in particular are very passionate when it comes to sharing their feelings and opinions, and its not a bad thing.

“The youth have a fresh take on things, and we are often taken by surprise also by the ‘wisdom of the young.’That being said, some may find themselves among the rubbles of social media arguments,” she said.

However, in dealing with online disagreements or differences in opinions, the way to diffuse the situation to find a peaceful solution remains the same.  She shares some helpful tips:

Ignore the situation. If some of the issues are not important to you, Gibas said that it is better to simply ignore them instead of reacting to everything.

Don’t make patol. Most people always feel offended about social media posts that do not reflect their own beliefs. Staying calm and trying not to take opposing comments too seriously is one way of saving yourself from blowing up. This also means not taking the bait instigated by some trolls in social media who relish riling people up with provocative arguments, not facts.

Remove yourself from the thread. When comments are getting intense and they are getting to your nerves, stop reading the convos and step away from the source of your stress.

Remember to respect. The world has about a billion people and just about as many personalities and opinions. Accept the fact and just remember to respect such differences.

Gibas acknowledged that these are easier said than done but in order to save relationships, it would not hurt to at least give it a try.

“Arguments often start from frustrations of one person over another whom he/she believes cannot seem to grasp the point he/she is trying to get across. The thing is, each generation has lived their lives in a world that has its own unique dynamics, which is a big, fat factor in the way we look at things and form our opinions. Forgetting about that often results to the generation gap and the same principle applies to online arguments,” Gibas explained.

At the end of the day, Gibas said that it is close to impossible to achieve an absolute consensus when it comes to politics, even though everyone shares the same desire to uplift the country.

“Nothing will ever justify losing friends and the void they will leave behind in our lives over political disputes and differences. Plain and simple,” she opined.