Students across campuses in Salt Lake may not agree on who to vote for, but on Nov. 8, many agreed they were glad the election was over.
“This election cycle seemed much more fatiguing because we dealt with two candidates who had been tremendously disliked more than any other candidate that we have seen in a number of decades,” said Grayson Massey, an intern who reported to the Republican Party and Chairman James Evans this election season.
Massey was not the only Westminster student who interned for a political campaign. Leah Weisgal, a senior public health major, interned for the Democratic Party.
“I would say everyone I work with is ready for the election to be over,” Weisgal said. “From a personal standpoint, I have been in a lot of turmoil this entire election because my basic rights are at stake; it’s been really draining.”
A new Pew Research Center study called “The Political Environment on Social Media” found that most U.S. adults were worn out by their political interactions over social media, which sparked more negative than positive discussion.
“I have actually unfriended three people in the last month because of their posts,” said Alexa Stuart, a first-time voter from the University of Utah. “I don’t have a problem with people having opinions; I have a problem with people posting nonstop and menacing those with different opinions.”
The Pew research study found that 59 percent of the people surveyed were stressed and frustrated when discussing politics on social media with people who had opposing views.
“It’s frustrating because typically what happens is people engaged in social media debates rely on rhetoric they’ve heard from other people, so it just leads to a perpetuation of bad information or misknowledge,” said Jacob Smith, a senior communication major at Westminster.
Westminster marketing major Cameron Irby said the most frustrating aspect of this election season was the inability to determine which posts were created with a political agenda.
“I hate [political posts] because people all of a sudden make themselves seem like political experts, but they end up sharing videos that obviously have a political agenda,” Irby said.
For exasperated first-time voters, some found it best to stay off social media altogether.
“Staying off of social media has helped me develop my opinion on this election,” Stuart said.
Aldo Castaneda, a sophomore studying architecture and design at Salt Lake Community College, said he had given up on the election long before Nov. 8.
“I avoid [politics on social media] to a point,” Castaneda said. “Everyone has their own voice and they have their own opinions and you should respect that regardless, but I just don’t look at it anymore.”
The Pew Research Center study also found that one in five social media users has changed an opinion about an issue or candidate because of something on social media.
“Pretty much everything I see is online, so that is what shapes my opinion,” said Michael Porter, a senior marketing major.
Some students said they searched for political information through outlets other than social media.
“I don’t tend to think of social media as a great source for news, so I try to actually seek out quality news sources,” Smith said. “I stick to Vice and stuff like that—actual news outlets.”
Smith said he found the rhetoric and language from the candidates to be the most exhausting aspect of this election season—a sentiment Porter echoed.
“Nobody wants to talk about positive things,” Porter said. “Everyone wants to talk about the bad. When something that is not supposed to happen happens, that is what people want to talk about.”
Smith said he thought turnout among young voters would remain low due to political fatigue. Traditionally, young voters between the ages of 18 to 29 have the lowest voting turnout, according to Voter Turnout Demographics.
“I think it’s going to get worse,” Smith said. “I think fewer millennials will turn out. There’s no motivation if both candidates suck.”
However, Weisgal, a Democratic Party intern, said millennials turned out in early voting polls and the reputation they have as an apathetic voter base is inaccurate.
“There’s been massive ‘get up and vote’ campaigns and the efforts to reach millennials has been huge,” Weisgal said. “The research shows that once you get millennials registered, they vote.”
With the end of this political season, another will come creeping up again soon. Massey, an intern for the Republican Party, said he is ready for a reprieve.
“There’s an old saying that the day after the election is the first day to start campaigning for the next cycle,” Massey said.
Across the aisle, students across Salt Lake found common ground this election season in their political fatigue. Now that the election is over, Weisgal said it’s time to get drunk.