Political neutrality

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

What impact does apoliticism have on society?

Given the politically divisive nature of contemporary society, from global conflicts to infighting with our own legislature, individuals find themselves caught witnessing dissension nearly constantly. A common response, especially in the United States, to this phenomenon is to turn to apoliticism. As we witness the dissemination of news and other factual information through social media and other means, we at the Technique wish to address both the causes and impacts of such political neutrality. We also aim to assess the influence of social media, and how it might exacerbate this issue.

There is no doubt that social media can be a powerful tool in spreading information and political activism. Social media becomes especially prevalent during awareness campaigns such as the Me Too movement and the Black Lives Matter movement, and even during times of political and violent conflict such as what is going on currently in Israel and Palestine. Many people who would previously be ignorant of such events are forced to face them through Instagram stories and X posts. 

As important as this may be, during times of extreme turmoil, social media can be harmful to the mental states of users. Further, the overwhelming nature of these posts can sometimes take away from their educational nature. People who are less politically inclined might find them exhausting instead of taking the time to read certain posts; worse, they may simply scroll past the posts, thereby taking
away their impactfulness. 

Additionally, posting on social media about important issues can sometimes be harmful and reductive. An aesthetically pleasing infographic with beautiful colors and fonts is sometimes posted or reposted just for performative purposes. People and organizations who should have no stake in certain issues limit their involvement to blanket statements on social media that aren’t impactful, often centering themselves in conversations that do not directly impact them.

This is notable in the corporate world. Some corporations publicly condemn wars and violent conflict; behind the scenes, however, they partake in activities such as enacting divestment policies  that fund wars and funding organizations contributing to warmongering. Their public statements are simply empty words. One social issue where this is very common is with climate change. Corporations take pledges to reduce their carbon footprint or improve their environmental impact. However, this is an example of greenwashing, as they deceitfully convince their constituents that they are working towards betterment of the environment, when this is not the case. In other cases, corporations release carefully worded statements, touting neutrality, but communicating nothing at all.

While public expression of political stances has expanded in recent years, apoliticism still plagues the United States in other spheres. Proponents of political neutrality cite a past America where open, free discussion was prominent, but this is exaggerated. It may be true that reaching over the aisle to find compromises was more commonplace in the past, but this does not excuse political neutrality in the present. However, the United States government system does innately favor apoliticism. With the intense divisiveness of the current two-party system, a citizen who is displeased with both parties — as is becoming more and more common — may feel that their voting is ineffective. Since it will always be one party or the other, their voice feels ineffective. Thus, the system itself does encourage citizens to vote and participate in civic processes, exacerbating
the prevalence of apoliticism. 

However, political neutrality is by no means a solution to disillusionment with the American government and state of the world. It is imperative that we work towards progress, rather than choosing to do nothing due to stagnant circumstances. While global and national politics may seem conducive to apoliticism, we must continue to take part in civic processes and do what we can to contribute to the alleviation of global conflicts. Whether that be exercising carefulness when crafting social media posts or contributing to organizations fundraising for affected communities, we must all do our part to cultivate an environment to encourage widespread awareness and global peace. 

The Consensus Opinion reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board of the Technique, but not necessarily the opinions of individual editors.