Last Saturday I joined a lovely group of Iowa bloggers during the #IowaBloggersUnite gathering. The presentations were a mix of slide shows and round table discussions for both seasoned and new bloggers. Everyone, including myself, asked questions in an effort to find ways to be better at what we do.
At one point, we were talking about what types of stories readers like and what they don’t. No matter our audience type, the group was in agreement that discussions about politics drive people away. Regardless which side you are on, there are people who disagree. While I like to utilize my online presence to educate and inform about things like how a caucus works, that’s where I draw the line when it comes to politics.
Give me a second while I find my soapbox.
As parents, we teach our kids about rules and being fair. We stress the importance of being honest and thinking of others. We discuss what is right and what is wrong, and equally as important, why. We remind them to learn all the facts and all sides of the entire story before rushing to judgement. We discourage them from gossiping. Unfortunately, too many adults are quick to make life-altering decisions without thinking through the details and calculating the ramifications.
Don’t be one of those adults.
Just like we tell our kids to get all the facts first and not to gossip, the same holds true about politics and politicians. There is no doubt that Fox News and The Wall Street Journal report more conservatively while MSNBC and The New York Times favor more liberal agendas. In an age where information is available on demand from smart phones with quality cellular service, we hear “news” constantly. We see trending stories on social media, opinions and reactions from friends on Facebook and headlines on our browser’s home page. It’s more important than ever to do what we expect of our children: Learn all sides to the story before making decisions.
If you want to be informed, be truly informed. When you see a Facebook notification pop up on your iPhone 6s with a friend ranting about something that was said about one of the Decision 2016 candidates, take a few minutes to do some research before responding. Go to a variety of news sources that slant opposite directions to get a bigger picture with more details. If you are out driving and hear election news that stirs a reaction, utilize nationwide cellular coverage when you arrive at your destination to find out more while it is fresh in your mind.
According to Pew Research, about two-thirds of Americans owned a smartphone in 2015, up from 35% in the Spring of 2011 with about 68% of smartphone owners using their phones to follow breaking news. Not only are more voters online and accessing information that way, but the candidates are doing the same – taking their messages to various social media platforms.
Here are some apps and resources you can use to stay informed from the comfort of your mobile device:
US Presidential Election 2016 App: With background on all candidates, insights, commentary and news across party lines, you can utilize this app to track important information and events such as dates of debates, conventions and primaries by state. With a focus on the presidential election, it even offers push notifications so you don’t miss the debates.
News Network Apps: CNN, FOX News and C-Span are a few of the networks with websites and apps accessible from your favorite smartphone. They offer interviews, commentary, reports and more about the election, the candidates, the platforms, the controversies and the breaking news. Remember… check multiple sources before making judgments.
RegisterToVote website: If you haven’t registered, do. Now. While you may feel like your vote doesn’t matter, it does. The option to vote is one of the rights and privileges of being an American citizens and helping choose our leaders in the White House as well as Congress in addition to state and local elections. 31 states as well as the District of Columbia allow people to register online to vote. It’s quick and easy allowing more people to register in time for this year’s very controversial, very important presidential election.
Periscope and Meerkat: Voters can now witness campaigns live using these types of livestreaming apps. Behind-the-scenes moments become the subject of public scrutiny from people viewing live video footage via Twitter. This glimpse into what is happening at the moment is the opportunity to see what is REALLY said before it’s edited with a biased slant by the various news agencies.
There are a multitude of ways to find information online so do it. Don’t be one of those adults that believes the first thing they hear. Whether you want to discuss politics online or in person or prefer to keep your opinions to yourself, it’s imperative that you do some election research to know all the details. Having reliable cellular service like U.S. Cellular is key so you can doing your own fact-checking wherever you are.
How do you feel when you see politics discussed online?