COLUMBUS, Ohio — While one of the longest election cycles in history has come to an end, division across the country and on social media remains.

What You Need To Know

  • Communication expert Jennifer Walton gives tips on how to handle altercations about politics online and in-person
  • Walton said COVID-19 fatigue is playing a role in the hostility in the world
  • A Columbus resident shares his experience with altercations on social media during the past year

It’s one of the reasons Columbus resident Tony Zavala said he has unfollowed friends and family members during the last year.

“It’s not something that I do often but I definitely have unfollowed people from seeing things that they’ve posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, every social platform you can think of,” Zavala said.

Communication expert Jennifer Walton said that this year has been the perfect storm and has made it challenging to remain civil.

“I think we have COVID, we have election fatigue, we have negativity fatigue,” Walton said.

However, she said there isn’t a quick fix.

“We’re just going to have to wait this out and hope that as time goes by we start to heal and feel more united.”

When talking about politics in person or online, Walton said it's best to try to find some common ground, such as history being made with the first woman vice president.

“That was a big step. Even if you weren't a Biden-Harris supporter, you can still see that that is a historic moment, 50% of the population are women,” she said.

Still, Zavala said it is difficult to find common ground with people who have strong opinions and that's a reason he says some relationships can’t be salvaged.

“I would like to mend those types of relationships. Some of these people are people I’ve known for years but sometimes there’s just a line you can’t cross,” Zavala said.

And while Walton suggests trying to re-focus on the reason you connected with someone in the first place, she said it’s OK to leave relationships unfixed.

“We should try to repair those relationships but if you’re looking at friendships that you’ve only maintained over social media or people you only talk to on occassion and when you do it’s just depressing and upsetting, removing those people from your life is probably not an unhealthy choice to make,” Walton said.