As one of the most plugged-in generations, millennials have a reputation for getting and sharing their news online, and the presidential race is no exception.
Pew Research Center data shows that 35 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds consider social media the most helpful resource for news on the 2016 election, topping other online and television news sources.
Frequently, young people are not only reading about politics on social media — they are posting about it, too. More than 60 percent of millennials said they get political news from Facebook in a given week, according to a Pew report.
Sharing politics on social media has potential consequences, though. Patricia Rossi, etiquette coach and author of “Everyday Etiquette: How to Navigate 101 Common and Uncommon Social Situations,” said young people must realize that their social media posts are permanent but their views over time will likely shift and change.
“Social media isn’t a place to play,” said Rossi. “It’s our résumé and our business card now.”
Posts about strong political opinions threaten to alienate friends, co-workers, family members and others in your network who may read them, Rossi said.
“You’re never, ever going to change someone’s political opinions face to face in a [single] conversation,” she said. “A tweet is probably not going to do that, either, especially if it’s hostile.”
Liz Sheehan, the president of College Democrats at Loyola University in Chicago, said millennials’ familiarity with social media makes it easy for them to post about politics. But on her own Facebook profile, she does not share posts without fact-checking them, she said.
“I see a lot of inconsistencies with quick things you can press ‘share’ on really fast on Facebook and Twitter, and I think that can be viewed poorly, a person who doesn’t do research,” Sheehan said. “I think that would be the biggest thing going against millennials, to just hit that share button.”
Speaking freely about politics on social media not only affects your relationships, but it can also cost you your job. In March, Ohio police officer Lee Cyr was fired after he commented “Love a happy ending” on a Facebook post about the suicide of Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn M. McCarrel II.
John Rossheim, a senior contributing writer for career website Monster, suggested that anyone posting something political consider first how that might be read by a human resources executive.
“HR people tend to be very averse to controversy,” he said.
LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher said that, while online profiles present an opportunity to give employers an idea of your personality, you have to express those behaviors within reason.
“Your future employer is going to be looking at this, so you want to be sure that you’re showing up in the best way possible,” Fisher said. “It’s such an opportunity to position yourself as someone that people want to work with.”