These days, following politics is nothing short of exhausting due to the intensity of the upcoming election. Turn on the news or scroll through Twitter, and you’ll be bombarded with a slew of complicated terms, phrases and issues. Even for the most well-informed voter, it’s difficult to keep up with all of the concepts that get thrown around on a daily basis. My saving grace for staying informed about political and societal issues has been the Instagram account @soyouwanttotalkabout.
The account provides explanations on progressive politics and social justice issues in concise, easy-to-follow graphic slideshows. It also covers some lesser-known topics involving history and psychology that are important for understanding the many issues America is currently grappling with.
From the Green New Deal to racial gaslighting to the tactic of derailing a conversation, @soyouwanttotalkabout covers it all with pristine clarity and to-the-point explanations.
I have found the account’s information immensely helpful in my quest to better understand what the CNN and MSNBC talking heads are actually talking about. While it’s obvious who the owner of the account will be voting for (hint: It’s not the current occupant of the White House), the information presented is based strongly in fact rather than opinion. Every slide in every post references the exact source used so that people can see for themselves where the information came from and learn more.
These citations make @soyouwanttotalkabout stand out from the wide variety of informative political Instagram accounts out there. Even when accounts that discuss politics and social issues present a lot of information, they don’t always reference each and every source used, which lessens their credibility no matter how comprehensive the information may seem.
In an era when anyone and everyone seems to be discussing political and social issues on Instagram, these citations prove that it can be done in a responsible way, mitigating the spread of misinformation.
Social media’s role in responsibly discussing politics and social justice issues is complicated. When used properly, social media can give rise to social justice movements, as it has with the Black Lives Matter movement. However, the fast pace and lack of fact-checking on social media leads to false and misleading information that spreads like wildfire.
Just look at how quickly rumors about supposed Antifa arsonists spread on Twitter and Facebook among people in the path of the recent deadly West Coast wildfires. The rumors were completely unfounded, but people who took them seriously defied evacuation orders in order to protect their homes from looters who didn’t actually exist.
A recent Pew Research Center study determined that 1 in 5 U.S. adults receive their political and election news through social media, and that this group is more likely to be exposed to unproven claims and believe false statements. Thus, with many Americans relying on social media for their news during this election, getting the facts right on social media is more important than ever before.
While one Instagram account cannot make up for the endless amounts of political misinformation on social media, it can provide a model for how to spread facts instead of fiction. By backing up every single claim it presents, @soyouwanttotalkabout does just that, making it a must-follow account amid the torrent of political and social justice news that phone screens are flooded with every day.
The most impressive aspect of @soyouwanttotalkabout is how good it is at presenting factual information while also leaning into pathos and emphasizing everything that’s at stake in this election. It even has a post titled “what’s at stake in the 2020 election.”
The next president of the United States will have an immense influence over areas such as the Supreme Court, health care and climate change, to name just a few. The decisions he makes will impact the country for decades to come, which is not the case in every election.
These high stakes, combined with the division, the pandemic and an economic crisis plaguing the country, make it easy to get caught up in emotion when discussing politics and social justice. This Instagram account doesn’t ignore these emotions; rather, @soyouwanttotalkabout uses facts to inspire people to spur these intense emotions into action.
For example, one of the account’s recent posts is titled “Trump’s America,” which discusses the hypocrisy of the Trump campaign. The campaign has focused much of its energy on using images of riots and looting to argue that people will not be safe in Joe Biden’s America, completely ignoring the fact that these images are from, well, Donald Trump’s America.
Anyone voting against Trump knows how difficult it is to keep anger at bay when discussing all the ways Trump and his cronies are using scare tactics and outright lies to appeal to their base. The account channels this frustration into detailed descriptions of how danger has only increased in Trump’s America. It presents statistics to prove how crime has actually increased in Republican-led cities, despite the campaign’s insistence that Democratic-run cities are spiraling into chaos.
Additionally, the post explains how violent hate crimes have reached a 16-year high under Trump, jobless rates are rising and Trump’s lack of interest in an effective national coronavirus response has left almost 200,000 Americans dead. The account packs all of this complicated information into the post in an accessible way, and it ends by encouraging people to vote, as Trump’s America clearly isn’t the safe haven he wants people to believe it is.
The account does not shy away from confronting the difference between matters that are political and matters concerning basic human rights that have been turned into political issues. Sure, @soyouwanttotalkabout covers topics from a liberal perspective. However, it also emphasizes that certain topics are issues that actually shouldn’t be political, despite how they seem to be inextricably linked to politics.
For example, it discusses how the Black Lives Matter movement is simply about fighting for Black people’s human right to live, and how climate change is about nothing more than listening to science to figure out how to make our dying earth healthier. Politicizing these topics didn’t start with Trump, and it’s true that they are political issues in the sense that governmental policies can affect them for better or for worse.
But Trump politicizes them in an unproductive and harmful way. Considering how he has no actual platform and goes to extreme measures to foster an “us versus them” mentality among his supporters, it seems that he transforms what should be objective topics into divisive issues in a way that has dangerous — and even deadly — consequences.
The account reveals all of the ways that Trump weaponizes issues to create the illusion that there are two sides to stories that should only have one.
The next two months (and in reality, the rest of the year) will be even more politically charged than the last four years have been. But @soyouwanttotalkabout is there to guide you through it. Using inarguable historical and statistical facts, the account explains how America’s political landscape has gotten to where it is today with the goal of inspiring people to help make the change the country so desperately needs.