Talking politics on the internet is stressing white people out

White people like lots of weird things: cold-brewed coffee, Radiohead, the death penalty, Edison lights, Diet Coke (okay, everybody likes that).

There’s plenty they don’t like too: calling out grandma’s racism, clearing their closet of cultural appropriations, admitting they watch Kevin James movies even though everyone knows they do.

The newest thing white people don’t like is dealing with politics on the internet.

Pew Research has found that across the board, 46% of adults are tired of politics on social media. But whites are particularly weary of arguing about the latest senatorial stall or major policy change via tweet. More than half of whites, 52%, told researchers that they are “worn out” by political posts on social media, as compared to 36% of nonwhites.

Given that the Republican party is a whiter shade of pale, it makes sense that far more (51%) of Republicans and those that lean right are sick of politics online, than more diverse Democrats and the Democratic-aligned (43%).

Since 2016, the share of people who enjoy politics on the internet has declined significantly across the board. Then, one in five were down to debate on the internet; now only 15% are. Probably because, as researchers found, we’re not interacting with like minds there; two of three said they were less likely to find people they agree with online, which has contributed to an increase in the number of people who find it “stressful and frustrating” to talk about politics online (59% in 2016, 68% today).

Compared to nonwhites, whites aren’t particularly keen on talking to people who they disagree with, either.

“White social media users are more likely than nonwhite users to say they find it stressful and frustrating to talk politics with people they disagree with (72% vs. 61%) or that these conversations generally lead them to realize they have less in common with that person than they may have anticipated (71% vs. 61%),” Pew Research wrote.

All that dissent has turned social media from a happy place filled with Carpool Karaoke, Grumpy Cat memes (RIP little feller), and Channing vs. Jenna Dewan Tatum lip sync videos (RIP Jatum); into a dark land where political trolls scour tirelessly for their next victim. We also probably hate follow too many people.

As the nation stares down the barrel of the 2020 elections, it will be interesting to see if all that political fatigue will have a measurable impact on voter interest and turnout. An engaged electorate is key to representative government, but if white folks stay home this go-round, well, odds are we’ll have a new occupant in the White House.

This post has been updated.

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Claire Goforth

Claire Goforth

Claire Goforth is a Jacksonville, Florida-based journalist covering politics, culture, justice, and unicorns. Her work has appeared in publications ranging from regional alt-weeklies to Al Jazeera.