Twitter

How Social Media is Changing the Landscape of American Politics

President Donald Trump

What if I told you 3 years ago that our next American president would be elected primarily by using Twitter?

I think most people would reply, “Yeah, right.”

Until recently, we’ve all thought social media was useful for entertainment, showing selfies no one wants to see or posting what we ate for lunch. Donald Trump, however, saw a different potential and changed the world.

One controversial tweet in 2015 galvanized many in the country like no other:

“Billions of dollars gets brought into Mexico through the border. We get the killers, drugs & crime, they get the money”@realDonaldTrump, July 13, 2015

People were outraged from coast to coast, but suddenly everyone was talking about illegal immigration. The more the media mocked him, the more his influence soared.

Did his use of social media end when he became the leader of the free world? Nope. Consider just a few of his pronouncements in 2017:

  • The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People! (February 17)
  • Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism! (March 4)
  • Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer! (September 23)

President Trump’s use of social media has moved the world to action in historic ways. We are in the midst of an enormous cultural shift, 140 characters at a time, and from just one man.

Social media platforms offer viable ways to influence our world, but most people use them inappropriately. They take to Facebook spewing their latest rant but fail to achieve positive outcomes. In nearly every case, they only reach a few of their “friends” who think the same way.

Facebook has changed their algorithm recently to minimize political rants that do not engage social interactions that meet their criteria. These changes are intended to increase civil discourse on Facebook.

How can one use social media effectively in this politically-charged environment? Since people have passionate views on a range of issues, what are some suggestions for communicating those views in respectful ways?  

A recent article, What Can and Can’t You Do with Political Advertising on Facebook?, may provide some solutions for more responsible communication on Facebook.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Social Media and Cowardice

If you really believe in what you have to say about a person, then why use social media to communicate a message to him or her, especially if you have the person’s home address, email address, and/or telephone number?  Because many people lack the courage to confront people directly, social media becomes vehicles for articulating their messages.  What’s disconcerting about this increasing phenomenon is more people believe that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and etc. are the proper mediums to solve conflicts.  Why not just pick up a telephone?  One has to wonder, however, if people just enjoy resolving conflicts through public spaces like Facebook and Twitter to attract more attention to themselves.  When you think about it, resolving conflicts at someone’s home, through email, and/or over the telephone is too private for those who desire to find any way possible to get more attention drawn to themselves.

Now, if you have already directly addressed your problems with someone and that person does not try to work with you to solve those problems, then it may be appropriate to express how you feel in general about a problem you have with someone in an indirect manner to keep you from fighting the person.  If you have an established reputation of letting people know in their faces (without any hesitation) how you feel about an issue or problem when one arises, then it may be appropriate to make an indirect comment on Facebook or Twitter about the problem or issue.

Cowardice occurs through social media when a person never has addressed his or her problems with someone directly.

Some people think you’re not smart enough to know when they’re sending subliminal messages to you.  They think they’re getting over on you and affecting you.  However, what they don’t understand is the reason that you’ve not responded to them directly and/or punched them in the mouth is you see them as lightweights, are trying to not destroy their world for their sake and their family’s sake, and/or wish not to cause a major scene.

When people always have to promulgate indirect messages, you can tell they’re struggling with deep insecurities and self-esteem problems.  Why else would they always express themselves through indirect messages?

In the time you invested in composing an indirect message, you could have already communicated a direct message by picking up a telephone?  Why waste time?  Go ahead and be honest—it’s not really about the indirect message you’re attempting to send to someone, but it’s more about you needing to deal with things you’re stowing on the inside of you that need to be eliminated.

You have to be careful about communicating indirect messages to someone through social media because that person could respond with a direct message to you that could surely shake up your world forever.

For every move there is a counter.

Don’t let your weak indirect messages end up causing you a lifetime of misery.  You have to resolve how much you’re willing to lose when you publish tweets, statuses, and posts.

Don’t be a coward—say what you have to say to someone directly to him or her!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Too Wired?

Although all of the fascinating marvels of technology have us often spellbound, we need to take some time to reflect critically about how much mental energy we consume while using sundry technologies.  Many people say that they take breaks from their work by playing with their fancy cell phones and logging on to Facebook, but they really don’t think about how they are not giving their minds a chance to rest.  With such a wide range of technologies available to us in the postmodern epoch, we need to give ourselves meaningful breaks away from these technologies each day.

Some people find it difficult to go ten minutes without looking at using their cell phones.  While you may say that it’s not a big deal to spend a significant amount of time using various technological devices, this can begin to take a toll on your health over time.  Whether you realize it or not, the human brain needs rest.  Even when many people are sleeping and about to go to sleep, they have their televisions on and/or have laptops in bed with them.

Are you ever unplugged from technology for a meaningful period of time to rest your brain?

Many people will come home from a strenuous day of work to sign on to their Facebook and Twitter pages, but they do not think about how much mental energy they are investing in their activities on Facebook and Twitter.  With all of the things that you do and can do on Facebook and Twitter, you can add additional stress to your brain by staying on social media sites for a long period of time each day after you end your work day.

Don’t allow our intriguing technologies to amplify the stress you already have.  Of course, you may think that Facebook and Twitter are social media sites that do not have any stress attached to them.  However, there is often so much drama on Facebook and Twitter and things that can upset you on those sites that you will find that you are even more stressed after logging on them than when you left work.

Take a moment to think about whether or not you waste too much time using various technologies each day.  Is your cell phone so interesting that it causes you to neglect your responsibilities?  It’s really not good for your health to have your cell phone up to your ear for long periods of time each day.  Consider taking a break from some technological devices you engage with for a day and see if you are able to manage without these devices.

While social media sites have become widely popular, many people employ these sites to create false identities and to start unwarranted wars with other people.  When you feel like those are the primary reasons you’re using technology, then it’s time for you to step away from technology for at least a short period of time and refocus your energy.  You have to think about how trying to maintain false identities and fight wars through social media sites is not good for your health over time.

Are you too connected to technology?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

Although many people across America have a significant amount of daily responsibilities, you must find some time to have fun.  Don’t get so busy that you forget that you have a life outside of those things that have you so busy and involved.  Make time each day to engage with something that’s totally unrelated to your daily responsibilities to just have fun—even if it’s just for a brief moment.  You will be amazed at what just a brief moment of fun each day can do for you to release some of the stress that accompanies being very busy.  While one can understand that the things that have you very busy can be things that you enjoy and allow you to have fun, you need to take some separate time away from those things to devote completely to having fun.

Some people have not allowed themselves to experience the fullness that life has to offer.  It’s okay to be adventurous sometimes.  Go out and experience life.  Do something that you’ve never done before.  Don’t get so consumed by your routine that you think that you’re truly living a full life through your routine.  You can be a serious and professional person and still have a significant amount of fun.

Never take yourself too seriously.

You don’t have to pretend to have fun.  Do you know people who will sit up and create lies about things they supposedly have done and/or are doing to make you think they are having fun?  Even when some people have told you that they did not have fun doing something, they will post messages on Facebook and Twitter about how they had and/or are having fun.  Why lie about something like this?  It seems that there are some deeper problems and challenges that people are struggling with that will cause them to resort to telling lies about something like this.

Although it’s vital to find time to have fun, you must understand that you shouldn’t dedicate so much of your time to having fun that you don’t take care of serious responsibilities.  For example, you should not spend so much of your money having fun that you end up not having enough money to pay your rent or car note.  Be responsible about how you have fun.  Some people are always having fun and not doing the important things that they should be doing.

Just because you devote most of your time to having fun does not mean that your life is any better than the person who is only able to invest a more modest amount of time to having fun.  Many people use Facebook to post pictures and location notifications to try to present themselves as people who are “living the life”—when in actuality they are not as happy and not as financially stable as they are attempting to advertise.  Now, in no way does the previous statement try to suggest that all people who post pictures and location notifications about the places they go to and the things they do are posturing—the previous statement just offers an assertion that many people are guilty of doing this.

You can live a fun and responsible life.  If you’re living a fun and responsible life, continue to enjoy your life.  If you’re not living a fun and responsible life, do yourself a favor by starting to live a fun and responsible life.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Read and Follow Everyday Street Bible

My best friend, Santresa L. Glass, and I have created a new project, Everyday Street Bible, which is a blog we use to offer practical and real-world commentary about Christianity, mundane life realities, controversial social, political, and cultural issues, challenges, and problems, and so much more.  The site is located at http://everydaystreetbible.blogspot.com.  I encourage you to become a follower of the site.  We let you know how two real Christians live a real life in this real world.  We truly keep it real.

On the site, we have and will continue to address most of the things that your pastors won’t dare address, but things you need to have some guidance about, considering you don’t spend every day in church.  Santresa and I understand that every day is not Sunday.  We know that you’re going to confront many challenges and problems that are not discussed in your church.  Our site, Everyday Street Bible, is committed to filling the gaps on many issues that preachers across the nation don’t want to address.

Santresa recently composed Sensitive Mean People and I penned Black Megachurch Preachers and Teenage Pregnancy for our site.  Be sure to check those two pieces out and leave a comment on both pieces to let us know what you think.  Show your support by reading and leaving a comment.

Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/thestreetbible and “Like” Everyday Street Bible on Facebook.  Santresa and I will greatly appreciate your support.

Thank you in advance,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Act Like You Have Children

Too many adults who have children behave in very immature ways that do not set a positive example for their children.  The level of maturity of many of these adults with children makes it difficult to believe they actually have children.  The reality is, however, almost anyone can have a child, but it takes committed, mature, and selfless people to be quality parents.  One would think that once people have reached adulthood they would evince the normative maturity indicative of adulthood.  Unfortunately, too many adults still do many of the same immature things they did as children in elementary, middle, and high school.  Sometimes one has to wonder why God would even allow immature people to bring precious new life into the world, especially when these immature people are going to be responsible for taking care of precious new life.

When you make the decision to have children, you need to understand that your immaturity should end with the discovery that you will now be a new parent.  If you knew you weren’t ready for children, then you shouldn’t have had unprotected sex.  It’s not like you didn’t know unprotected sex leads to pregnancy.

Women, when you decide to have a baby with a man who you know is no good, then you should be ready to suffer the consequences of having to rear the baby alone.  Before you start promulgating all of your frustrations about the challenges of rearing a child as a single mother, think about the foolish decision you made to have a baby with a man you knew was no good before he even inserted his penis in you.  You should have never been under any illusions that having a baby with a no good man was going to change how he acts—no matter what he told you before and/or while you were having the sexual encounter that led to you becoming pregnant.

Men, don’t have babies that you know that you don’t want.  Don’t have babies with women just to attempt to prove your masculinity or hypermasculinity.  One would like to think that bringing a child into the world would cause you to change the way that you act and think.  It would be nice to see you become a much more responsible person when you have a child.  However, many of you continue to allow your own selfish priorities to take precedent over the more important responsibilities that accompany the arrival of your child into the world.  Grow up fast!

If you want to be a real mother and father to your children, you must make a conscious choice to become more mature.  The last thing a new baby needs to be greeted with when arriving out of his or her mother’s womb is immature parents.  Now, you would think that a woman who has carried a child in her womb for nine months would act mature for her child, but many women don’t even begin to change their immature behavior while they are pregnant and after they have given birth.

When you are the mother of a child, you shouldn’t be on Facebook trying to start fights with people.  You should not be spending more time on Facebook than you do rearing your child.  Your Facebook statuses should not be bringing shame to your child.  It would seem that you would think about how you are presenting yourself as a woman when you are using social media.  The way in which you present yourself on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media vehicles can be significantly harmful to your ability to secure employment or advance in your career.  You never know who may view what you have said and/or posted on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.

If you are Facebook friends with your parents, you ought to have enough respect for your parents to conduct yourself in a way that demonstrates good character, maturity, and a sense that you have good values.

If you made a mistake and had a baby with one man that you already knew was no good before you had the baby with him, then it’s just stupid to go and have a second, third, fourth, and so on with more no good men and/or the same no good man you had your first child with who has not changed at all.

Although it can be quite unsettling, unnerving, and may even temporarily unhouse you, you need to engage in some deep self-evaluations about why you’re not acting like the responsible adult you should be for your children.  Don’t try to pretend like you’re happy when you know you’re not.  Try to get to the root of what prevents you from being truly happy.  If you know that much of your immaturity stems from low self-esteem, then you need to seek the help you know you need to boost your self-esteem.  However, boosting your self-esteem does not mean getting on Facebook and other social media sites and distracting yourself from the deep internal and external problems you’re experiencing.

If you’re not willing to change for the better for yourself, please change for the benefit of your children.  Your children deserve for you to be at your best.  Be responsible.  Be thoughtful.  Be selfless.  Be mature.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Exploring the Popular Use of “Don’t Judge Me”

“Don’t judge me” is increasingly becoming a popular and pervasive statement, especially among the 16 year old – 35 year old crowd.  I’m not against people judging me or anyone else. However, you must be qualified to judge others.  You should not be really serious about your use of “don’t judge me.”  While I think that it’s quite entertaining when I see “don’t judge me” used on Twitter and Facebook, you really should not be too concerned about what people say about you.  I’m not, however, saying that you should not totally overlook what people say about you and that you should not respond to some things people say about you. You should not overlook some things people say about you and you should respond to some things people say about you. However, I want to devote my dominant attention to my argument that you must be qualified to be an effective judge.

We cannot stop people from judging others and we should not try to prevent people from judging others.  What I would like for those who are committed to judging others is for them to be qualified about the things and aspects of people they judge.  For example, so many true and supposedly heterosexual people are quick to make a determination about whether a man is gay.  They will look at surface level things and rush to a quick judgment and call him gay.  As a deep and committed intellectual, I’m bother by how so many people will make a sweeping conclusion about someone’s sexual orientation and/or identity by just observing him in such a short amount of time.  Every man does not have a deep voice.  Every man does not and has no desire to “bust slack.”  Every man does not and cannot walk in a way that’s predominantly perceived by society as a “heterosexual way of walking.”

By the way, is there some class available that heterosexual men or women teach that men who want to learn how to walk like the typical heterosexual man can attend to learn this style of walking?  If so, I would like for you to let me know so that I can tell the people who are not committed to simply being themselves where they can attend this class.  Thanks in advance.

Some people even get a thrill out of being able to “detect” when a man is gay.  If the man does not reveal to you that he’s gay, then what makes your determination that he’s gay an intelligent judgment?  I’m not suggesting that you have to be gay to determine whether a man is gay, but your conclusions should not be based on the most inane surface level things that you see and hear.  What prevents you from mustering the courage to personally ask the man if he’s gay?  Always do this in an appropriate way because the method you elect to ask him can amount to nothing more than an attack, even if this was not your true intent.  If you are truly serious about being an effective judge, then why won’t you do the work that’s necessary to truly get to the bottom of your claims?  It amuses me sometimes and flummoxes at other times how someone can hear and/or see things out of context and then immediately arrive at a conclusion that someone is gay.

Always put things in their proper contexts.

People make judgments about myriad phenomena besides sexual orientation.  I selected to use sexual orientation as my primary example because sexual orientation is a phenomenon people often make swift judgments about without any critical thought.  Another example I could have focused on at length is about how people make judgments about others being smart.  People who are not smart are hasty to tell others that they are smart.  While their determinations may be true, what are the values and principles they employ for making their claims?  Do they even have any values and principles?  I could continue on and on with examples.

If you’re going to judge people, then make as strong of an effort as possible to ground your judgments in truth.  Try to avoid making judgments about things you have limited or no knowledge about.  Be real with yourself too and don’t try to pretend that you know everything.  If you want to be a qualified judge, then you need to focus on substantive things when you make your judgments.  While I certainly don’t have a problem with people judging others, I just don’t want you to end up looking like a fool because you focused on the wrong things and your conclusions materialize to be completely wrong.

Don’t be a fool.  Make informed, substantive, and wise judgments.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison