The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I follow Donald Trump on Twitter–both his personal and presidential accounts.
When I wake up and check Twitter, I don’t look forward to blithe comments about North Korean missile strikes, false dichotomies between good and evil or even the unnecessary uses of capitalization. Nonetheless, President Trump is our president, and whether you like it or not, he is the face of this nation.
I do not endorse Trump or the majority of his policies, but I strongly believe that it is important to listen to and respect the other side, and also to be informed. I believe that as Americans and as citizens of the world we must endorse free speech in every aspect of its definition. Free speech is a long standing and central American value at the core of many of our identities. But do we truly know what it means?
In my opinion, free speech refers to a person's right to speak one’s mind without fear of repression, oppression and censorship.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; yet not everyone receives it. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
We need to support viewpoints of diversity, especially on college campuses. We need to promote the diversity of thought and the right of all students to advance their academic and personal convictions, free from intimidation. The popularity of an opinion should not determine whether it is protected or not.
We need to focus on the issues themselves rather than on shaming and stigmatization–and that’s speaking to all sides of the spectrum. Stifling free speech leads to polarization, not progress. The rise of having two strongly opposing sides–both in the political arena and in media–has overwhelmingly grown over the past few decades. According to a study by Vox, this strong divide has been growing ever since the 1970s.
There are few social platforms where polarization is more evident than on Twitter. On Independence Day, there was a post about impeachment next to a tweet entitled #RaisedRight. Also, when NPR tweeted the Declaration of Independence, Trump supporters misinterpreted the content as inciting a revolution. Seem polarizing to you?
Partisanship has become increasingly toxic. Anger is one of the most pervasive and easily contagious emotions, especially on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Quite frankly, this is dangerous for our health–and for the health of our country.
Newspapers and journals such as CNN and The Atlanticare among my favorite websites to peruse, but at the same time, I recognize that they’re incredibly left-leaning. I use Twitter because of the engaging diversity of people, access to breaking news and the ability to track trends over time. I use Twitter because it gives me the chance to absorb as much from other people's tweets as it does to listen to my own thoughts. Along with using Twitter, I sign up for the “Your 1600 Daily,” as well as The Washington Post’s“The Daily 202.”
I also follow Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama, Rand Paul and many more politicians from across the spectrum. After all, in each of our country’s discussions on policies and major issues, we need as many viewpoints as possible on the table. Only then can we begin to bridge our divides.
Donald Trump's tweets may not be pleasant or even correct, but we need to be aware of what he's saying so we can be better informed citizens during politcal discourse.