You have the right to free speech, so use it (wisely)!

Whether you were running around campus celebrating or pouting in your room by the end of the night on November 6th, you probably turned to the Internet to say something about how you felt. And even if you didn’t say anything, you certainly read what someone else said!

As our newsfeeds filled with rants, memes, and threats to move to Canada when Obama’s electoral votes tipped over 270 (enjoy the healthcare system up there, you guys!) many vowed that they were signing off for the rest of the night because they were feeling like this:

But the conversations that occur online are an example of one of our beautiful rights and privileges as citizens of the United States: free speech.

Obama acknowledged our right to argue, discuss, and disagree in his acceptance speech:

These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

Watch the whole speech:

So even if you cringe when you log on to Facebook or Twitter within the next few days, just remember how exciting it is that we are able to express ourselves freely through the First Amendment.

That being said, it’s also important to remember your audience, especially when you’re posting online. Who is your audience, you may ask? Everyone. Before unleashing your next blog post, tweet, or status on the world, pause long enough to take these tips into account:

1. Know what you’re talking about. Especially in the realm of hot issues like the election, be sure that you research before signing onto Tumblr and discussing your personal feelings about the DREAM Act. You’re joining into a much larger conversation and people will be eager to argue with you. Back yourself up with the research you’ve done beforehand.

2. Be willing to talk. Some people seem to get rattled or confused when they post something personal or argumentative and people respond. The Internet is not your diary, so only post when you’re willing to elaborate.

3. Be respectful. The Internet is a great forum for igniting conversation and spreading your message, but be aware that sometimes it may be more appropriate to share your thoughts in a different manner; for example, over coffee with friends.

Also remember that as soon as people stop arguing over the election, there will be a new issue to spar over, and that’s dandy. Just remember that each time you speak, type or post, you are enjoying the privilege of free speech, so use it with care.

Amber, peer tutor