If there has ever been a time that better highlights the power of like-mindedness and collective sentiment, I can’t think of one. Social media pages lit up as a result of the election of Donald J. Trump as the next president of the United States last week. Neighbors, family, friends, co-workers, high school classmates, you name it, took to social media to vent their frustrations or their joy in hopes of being heard. Some turned to social media to commiserate, others turned to it to celebrate. Soon the “Commiserators” and the “Celebrators” fiercely clashed.
Why did it hurt us so much to find out how a beloved family member or good friend had voted? Will that change how we interact with them in the real world? Probably not. But social media has made a cottage industry out of divisiveness. We looked to social media for comfort, for a connection with people who believe in the same values as we do, but many times we are more upset by negativity we see in our Twitter stream and Facebook pages.
What we have realized is that common collective sentiment is what keeps us together. It’s what keeps communities and relationships strong. Can those relationships survive if you find out that you don't share the same values when it comes to politics? Yes. Because there are other things that you may share – it can be what school you went to, the music you listen to or the sports you watch. Sometimes, however, there is a tipping point when it comes to “unshared sentiment.” Maybe you don’t have as much in common with certain people as you once did. Maybe your priorities have shifted causing some relationships to change and evolve. We then gravitate towards others whose sentiment is more in line with ours and continue the cycle. This is a natural occurrence in real life and one that should carry over into digital life.
Shared collective sentiment is so important to the generation of ideas and the spreading of knowledge and creativity. Don’t we find that we are more apt to open ourselves up creatively when we are among a like-minded friendly, receptive audience? Of course we do! What we are not saying is live inside an echo chamber. Far from it! Listen to as many different ideas as possible, read or listen to things out of your comfort zone. You may find that your beliefs and ideas evolve …allowing us to grow as people.
There have been numerous articles about the 2016 election phenomenon on relationships – and there will no doubt be more in the coming weeks and months. We look forward to sharing those stories and even writing some of our own! Stay tuned!