We have all heard that politics and religion should be avoided as dinner and social media conversation, yet these last few months most of us have been sucked into some sort of commentary about the heated US Presidential Election – myself included. And yes the election is over, but debate over the issues and the current and future state of the United States isn’t going away anytime soon.

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Regardless of why you chimed in before the election, or will chime in now, here are a few tips on how to do it… if you must:

Personal vs. Professional

Make sure you DISCLAIM everything you say as your own personal opinion, and not that of your company. If people agree with you they will stay connected to you no matter where you work, and if you are the owner of the company you may even get some new business contacts in the process. On the flip side, you really don’t want to be responsible for creating any negative feedback for your company or association with political points of view the owner/board of directors may not agree with. There is a long tail here that will wag long after 2016 is over.

Passion vs. Presumption

There is a good chance many of the people you are connected to in the socialsphere do not have the same opinion about the election issues or the result. You can be passionate about your views as long as they don’t cross over into personal attacks and presumptions about intelligence, racism, patriotism or any of the other isms currently dividing our country. There is no coming back from this.

Channel Appropriateness

I IMPLORE YOU – do not make political commentary on LinkedIn… not on your status, not in groups, and certainly not through your blog over there. Let people make decisions to work with you by judging your work, not your political views. If you cannot abstain, disclaim and stay respectful. Just know you will never know how many people you alienated in the process.

Community Connections

Over the past few months I have deleted comments and disconnected from too many people to count. It’s not because they didn’t agree with me, but rather how they were voicing their opinion. On my timeline, in my LinkedIn Group, I am judge and jury. I decide what is inappropriate and I have the click power to make it (or you) go away. The bigger picture is that a few passionate comments that cross my comfort zone do not necessarily define all that you are, but now I will not invest my time to learn more about you.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time” ~Maya Angelou

That quote has been ringing in my head for months. I have seen some deep and thought provoking commentary about the election and the issues that forced me to evaluate my views, my connections, and the communities I am part of. I have lost members in the process of deleting comments and posts in my LI Group, and from selectively and carefully voicing my opinion about the election – even though I only shared my personal views on my personal Facebook page through conversations with people I actually knew. However, the way social media works and based upon my privacy settings, an exponential amount of people had access to my views. They weren’t expressed in an inflammatory manner – despite comments that were – but they weren’t neutral either. That was enough for some people to make me vanish from their screens.

I’m writing this well after the votes have been cast, but the tension is still high in the streets and in the streams. The ultimate point here is simple – we don’t all have to agree, but we should all strive to be respectful, regardless of the side we are on, or the channel.

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DeborahCorn-PrintMediaCentrDeborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr, a Print Buyerologist™, Integrated Marketer, Industry Speaker and Blogger, Cultivator of the Print Production Professionals Group, the #1 Print Group on LinkedIn, and host of #PrintChat, a weekly industry gathering on Twitter every Wednesday at 4PM ET. She has more than 25 years experience working in advertising and marketing, and currently works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers and industry organizations helping them to achieve success with their social media marketing endeavors, and meaningful relationships with customers.

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