Political Tone: Are People Easily Offended, Or Should Others Lower Their Tone?
Language is a powerful tool for expressing yourself and making impressions. By just interacting with others for a long time, human beings become experts in language. They become rhetorical artists. So, the language you use can affect others either positively or negatively. People will even describe you based on the language you use. They can consider you cold,hateful, distrustful, reserved, avuncular, and flighty based on the tone youuse (Hart, Childers, & Lind, 2013). These observations are made not only by listening to sound but via text. The term tone has for long been associated with sound. Today, the tone is on a large scale based on the text as social media use to pass information has grown significantly.
Many social media users recognize the role that social media play in giving people a chance to discuss issues affecting them. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center article, increased discussions about issues and interactions with candidates can change how people view political matters. According to the survey, one-in-five (20%) people have changed their minds about political candidates or a societal issue based on the information they acquired on social media (Duggan & Smith, 2016). Although more people agree to join the political debate, there is still a significant number, 39%, who feel that they at some point get worn out by posts about politics (Duggan & Smith, 2016). When discussing with people who differ in opinion, things get worse. This is where many people give up as they consider these discussions stressful. Could it be the tone that is the problem or are these people easily offended?
In the world of social media, how you say something matters more thanwhat you say. It is all about tone. In an attempt to determine whether Americans are easily offended or other people ought to be careful about language they use while discussing politics, a survey found that party affiliation has a lot to do with the differences. According to the survey, 68% feel that opponents' use of insults is not a fair game, and 31% think that it is appropriate (Pew Research Center, 2018). Republicans (55%) feel that too many people are offended by the tone opponents use, whereas the Democrats (45%) think that their opponents need to be more careful to avoid offending others. This is more of a partisan divide on political debates, which has gotten more expansive over the years.
The main issue is that most people have not grasped the fact that rhetoric or language used either in sound or text appeals to emotions. Those engaging in political debates should wisely apply rhetoric to inform, persuade, and motivate their audience. Hart, Childers, and Lind (2013) say that tone does affect the perception people have about others. So, depending on the desired result, the tone used in a post should be able to appeal to the target audience. More importantly, the audience should be able to read tone from text/post, or otherwise, they will misinterpret messages. For me, I feel that the political debates can be more decent if both sides i.e., the leaders/candidates and the audience, understand how to read tone from a text and express it correctly in posts. Luckily, technology has advanced, and people can use a tool like IBM Watson (I used it in my Ph.D., as you will note in mybook, Twitterism) to analyze text and determine the type of tone in their posts. This way, they can know whether their message is coming out as intended. Visit Twitterism.com to learn more about tone of voice on social media or pre-order a copy of "Twitterism: Raise Your Voice!" here.
Duggan, M., & Smith, A. (2016). The tone of social media discussions around politics. Pew Research Center.
Hart, R. P., Childers, J. P., & Lind, C. J.(2013). Political tone: How leaders talk and why. University of Chicago Press.
Pew Research Center (2018). The tone of political debate, compromise with political opponents. Pew Research Center.