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Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

As the gap between political views seems to be increasing, so does controversy after this year’s election. You may notice some heated arguments on your news feed and unwanted comments from distant family members. Remember, not everyone on your “friends” list shares your political views, and a seemingly harmless statement might offend someone you’re close to.

When using social media, keep in mind the diversity of your “friends” list, as well as what present and potential employers might think, before posting your next politically charged statement. What you share on the internet can affect the rest of your world. Keep these four tips in mind now they’ve elected a new president, to ensure that you don’t lose any friends over frivolous comments.

Think Before You Post

Image via Flickr by roanokecollege

It is preached in early childhood education centers throughout the nation, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” The same goes for social media posts and shares. Miscommunication is bound to happen when dealing with a text-based platform. Some readers might not catch the sarcastic or satirical sense of humor you have; therefore, it is important to read carefully before you post.

Part of this includes thinking long and hard about the information you are about to share with your news feed. We all have the right to express our freedom of speech; however, that does not mean we need to blurt out every opinion we have or take offense too easily. Think before you post. Is your news feed really going to benefit from the information you are sharing? Are you belittling anyone in the way you are expressing your views?

These are all questions you should ask yourself before making a status update, especially when pertaining to the sensitive subject of politics. Watching how you express yourself after an election might save you the hassle of having to dish out apologies to the friends and family you could potentially offend.

Always Edit

So, you’ve decided what you’re about to share is of value. Before you post that update, be sure to edit. Read your text aloud to ensure that your audience interprets your message the way you intended. Large screens like those of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus make it easy for you to catch any errors or offenses you might have let slip into your message.

If you’re unsure whether your post might be offensive, ask a friend. Having a second opinion is a good way to maintain friendships after an election.

Be Positive

If you do feel the need to express your political beliefs, expressing your beliefs in a positive way will show people where your support lies without offending anyone. When we read posts bashing someone we support, it can almost feel like a personal attack. This is when individuals get offended and can start to distance themselves from those expressing negative messages.

If you have close friendships with people who have different political beliefs from yours, it’s best to share policies you find beneficial in your party rather than bad-mouthing the other side. Besides, all your positive posts might offer a new perspective to someone on the opposite side. People are more inclined to listen to your views when you present them in a positive, respectful way.

Share With Care

Be careful what content you share and how you share it. If you share a video that depicts a negative image of either party, supporters of that party will be offended. Even if you agree with what the video depicts, harsh and negative imagery is not well received. If you are sharing the video because you disagree with the portrayal of the party, make sure you let your audience know in a calm, collected manner by adding a text comment with the video.

Every election is controversial, and this one is no different. When candidates are polar opposites, expressing your opinion without offending your friends can be the most difficult aspect of political discourse. If you feel the urge to share your beliefs on the internet, be sure to follow these tips before posting.