Social media angst ramps up over presidential campaign


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – What comes next in the race for president? On social media, you will likely see more intensity.

And some anger.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen so many harsh, hostile comments,” says WSU Psychology Professor Greg Meissen. “As you read down, underneath a story. and as you read down, it’s remarkable, kind of, how much nasty stuff is out there.”

Meissen says this year is unprecedented in terms of angst and anger on social media over Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“Oh, I think emotion is going to produce a lot of votes this time around,” says Meissen. “There’s a lot of angry people out there.”

So we went to social media clickers to see if they have noticed the anger.

“I feel like people are not watching the elections as much, they are just reading what they see on social media,” says Isaiah Figueroa, a Wichita State student. “Because I’m on social media lately and I see the 2005 video about Donald Trump… you see what Hillary Clinton says, and then you see on Twitter .”

Figueroa says he uses Twitter to get a lot of information. And he says the comments get nasty. He says he hasn’t lost any friends on social media who disagree with him on the presidential race. But, he says, the there’s plenty of ammunition for social media postings of all kinds.

“Hillary Clinton has things that she did wrong and Donald Trump says things that he did wrong,” says Figueroa.

Other social media hounds say they get their info Twitter and Reddit, but some wonder if they should watch and read more mainstream media.

“I don’t really follow it to be honest,” says WSU student Kami Blankman. “I kind of pay attention to it… Feels like it should care more. But, social media changes the aspect of everything, like the meaning of the candidates what they actually mean. I didn’t watch some of the debate so when I go on social media and see what other people did, I’m like ‘Oh, is that what really happened?'”

social-media-outrageFairly common for some using social media. Reality vs. social media postings.

And experts in psychology say social media can, at times, offer a narrow view of what candidates are actually saying on both sides.

“If you’ve already made up your mind, you’re going to pursue sources that support your judgment, support your opinions. And that’s an old, psychological principle that we all use every day. We gravitate to sources and information that confirms that we are right,” says Meissen. “And so, if people have already made up their mind and they are out looking at social media, they’re looking on their side of things. With the exception, I think, when something breaks. Then they go and investigate it and try to understand what’s going on but they pretty quickly go back to the places that already support their opinion.”

Other social media clickers say they do investigate and they don’t exclusively click on social media headlines.

“If it looks scholarly I’ll read it,” says WSU student Chelsea Moffett. “I’ll read it to see their views and why they are voting for who they are voting for.”

Moffett and others agree, there is much anger on social media regarding this Presidential race.

There will likely be much more.

“I think it’s going to continue to ramp up until the very election day,” says Meissen. “I think we’ll see things unfolding that (election) day. And people will be checking because they are going to be interested in what’s happening that day.”