Social Media Fuels Hyper-patriotism

The elections in the U.S. are only a month old, but have really created an atmosphere of hyper-patriotism. Each side continues to shout out how they love their country more than the other. This is not only seen played out in Congress, as we wait for them to accomplish something by year-end, but 24-hour news channels can't seem to let go of the outcome either. Where we had hoped the election could put a period on the end of the political "sentence," it created a semi-colon.

I won't battle the gun war that has been given ammunition by Bob Costas' verbal attack, as that is but one example of "I'm more patriotic than you." But this form of patriotism has taken to social media like never before. That people can actually go on social media sites and say that the political party (opposite them) hates their country, the military, what the U.S. stands for -- it baffles me. To be honest, I'm more than baffled. I'm deeply offended and wonder if/when it will ever stop. I see it among my own online friends when they click "like" on a certain photo. I watch how those photos can incite people to show up with virtual pitchforks ready to tear down anyone that don't believe as they do.

In one instance, a person had a real lack of respect (along with very poor judgment) and took a photo while on a business trip. That photo was spread across the Internet with thousands of people ready to kill her. Calling her every name in the book, contacting her parents (as others had shared the information), and even sharing the FB pages of those that may have spoken up on her behalf. That particular instance ended in a Facebook page that was created to have her fired. She and a co-worker were, in fact, dismissed from their jobs.

I am not in any way saying what she did was right. Do I hate that people gave out phone numbers and addresses to her parents that had nothing to do with it? Yes. I think that crossed a line. But what I take away from that incident along with the numerous other stories that have crossed the Internet since Nov. 6 is the incredible divide in the U.S. I worry about our country and if that huge gap among citizens will ever go away. Many (on both sides) would agree on the disrespect of this particular person and could probably agree on other issues affecting our country. But as people leave a hurried comment on the bottom of Huffington Post blogs or any forum they may be on, politics comes in to it time and time again -- declaring only a liberal would do such a thing, or that only a tea-party fanatic could act in such a manner.

When can we just go back to being Americans and not have to continue to label ourselves so we can instantly pick a fight? I long for that day to arrive.

And just maybe we should stop and think before we click "Like" on anything or add our "off-the-cuff" comments. All of this does nothing but make that chasm among friends wider and wider. I'm not speaking of strangers commenting on blogs such as this. I'm talking about the rift among actual friends who stand on opposite sides of an issue and "shout" across social media at each other.

Is this really what we've become as a nation?