trump-being-trump

The Shocking/Sobering Reason There Are No Trump Supporters on Your Facebook Feed

If you’re anything like me, you probably have Facebook friends across the political spectrum, and over the past few months you’ve seen a range of posts from young idealists feeling the Bern to staunch conservatives who Trust Ted.

But there is one glaring exception: the bewildering avalanche of articles denouncing Donald Trump and the mystifying absence of a single pro-Trump post.

So what accounts for this? Why do many of us see people posting pro and con on all the other candidates, but only negative things about Trump?

Where Are All the Trump Supporters?

When you think about it there are only a few options

  1. Trump supporters don’t actually exist
  2. Trump supporters aren’t using Facebook or the Internet
  3. I’m not Facebook friends with any Trump supporters
  4. Facebook isn’t showing me any pro-Trump news

Yes, Let’s take these one at a time.

A few months ago, the first option might have seemed plausible. Surely this is all just a fun stunt for Trump, and he might have some supporters, but he won’t actually get votes, right? However, primary after primary has proven this to be yuuuugely wrong. Donald Trump has tens of millions of living, breathing, voting supporters. The are real, and they are making their voices and votes count.

So what if Trump supporters just don’t post on Facebook? That doesn’t seem likely because this map of candidate Likes (HT: Tim Hutchings) shows that there are indeed many, many Facebook users who support Trump. And they aren’t avoiding anti-Trump articles either. Whenever I click on a “Why Trump is Bad for America” post, I see dozens of pro-Trump comments below the article. As his support grows, it’s also apparent that some people are embarrassed to be supporting him and so they keep quiet about it, but that doesn’t yet appear to be a majority of his supporters.

Is it possible, then, that I (and presumably ‘we’) don’t have any Trump-supporting friends on Facebook and that’s why we don’t see any posts in his favor? In person, I’ve only heard one couple friend (or really acquaintance) of mine offer strong support of Trump, so it seems very likely that few of the Facebook friends I’ve accumulated over the years support him.

This all means its possible that there are Trump supporters among my 500+ friends, and that leads to the another possible explanation for why I don’t see their posts — Facebook just isn’t showing them to me. Is this a Zuckerbergian conspiracy, or is something else going on?

Your Facebook is a Mirror

No it’s not a conspiracy. If Facebook isn’t showing my any pro-Trump posts from friends, it’s because it knows I probably don’t want to hear that message from those people.

My patterns over the last ten years – whose baby pictures I’ve liked, whose articles I clicked on, who I “respectfully disagreed with,” what ads I’ve clicked, even the posts I scrolled to and paused on for a few moments without clicking anything – all of that has been recorded, analyzed, and processed in order to create something Facebook knows I’ll like.

That Facebook’s job. Figure out what I like, and keep it coming, so I’ll return again and again. This might be a time to trot out fun statements like, “If a service is free, you’re the product,” but in this case, I think something deeper is a work.

Who Are “Those People”?

In his article, A Message from Trump’s America, Michael Cooper reminds us the majority of Trump supporters come from a large, neglected group of Americans – working class white people. They don’t make a lot of money, they are struggling to put food on the table, and they are frustrated that no one seems to be listening and no one seems to care. He writes:

His supporters realize he’s a joke. They do not care. They know he’s authoritarian, nationalist, almost un-American, and they love him anyway, because he disrupts a broken political process and beats establishment candidates who’ve long ignored their interests.

When you’re earning $32,000 a year and haven’t had a decent vacation in over a decade, it doesn’t matter who Trump appoints to the U.N., or if he poisons America’s standing in the world, you just want to win again, whoever the victim, whatever the price.

What’s worse is that there is a popular narrative that says only working class people are racist bigots and can be dismissed easily. However, in reality there appears to be plenty of racists among the highly educated as well. So it’s easy to say those working class supporters are wrong, but the shocking and sobering reality of Trump’s rise is that it exposes how utterly cut off most of us are from an entire class of people in need. People in need of compassion and grace, not condescension and more anger.

When I read Cooper’s description above, it doesn’t sound like the kind of person I seek out regularly. And it certainly doesn’t sound like the kind of person who could entertain me on Facebook, post an amazing photo on Instagram, or have a super interesting Periscope channel.

We tend to see only what we want to see, and social media is very good and showing us what we want to see.

The media we consume is so good at regurgitating the story we want hear, that an entire nation has been caught off guard by the presence of a class of people so desperate for change that they would support anyone – literally anyone – who will listen.

Post script: As Trump amasses more votes, he also seems to be getting more vocal supporters who don’t fit the original demographic – Chris Christie, Ben Carson, a pastor in my area who seem to enjoy media attention, lots of embarrassed people, educated people, etc. It’s likely that this “Trump as pragmatic choice” will continue right up to the nomination and possibly election.

But don’t let that distract you from the strange truth that from July 2015 to March 2016, many, many people thought Trump didn’t have a chance, and they thought this because they (including me) weren’t aware of the feelings of a massive group of people, some of them hurting quite badly. And our media echoed that back to us so strongly that for a time we believed they didn’t exist.

Published by

John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at http://j.hn/.

27 thoughts on “The Shocking/Sobering Reason There Are No Trump Supporters on Your Facebook Feed”

  1. I actually do have pro Trump idealogy pop up, which may say something bout me…or at that I mostly like these people regardless of their political beliefs…at least at this moment in time. Interesting to think many don’t see proTrump stuff at all.

    P.S. feliz cumpelanos

  2. Struggling to put food on the table. Only in America would someone be so naïve to write that. You’ve bought into the silly fable of the American myth. I make less than $25,000 per year, live in the northeast and live a comfortable life – not extravagant – but my needs are more than met.

    1. Good for you, but the northeast isn’t exactly a food desert. Yes, it’s more expensive but as you said, $25k can still get you a comfortable life. Try telling that to someone in Appalachia, where the money might go a bit father but opportunities are far less available. These are the people Trump really resonates with.

    2. Pete-are you supporting a family on your “comfortable” salary of $25,000? It is truly difficult, even in the Northeast, for a family to live a “comfortable life” on such a salary. Federal Poverty Guidlines for a family of
      1-$11,880; 2-$16,020; 3-20,160; 4-24,300.

      1. I totally agree, Judi. It is not strange to think there are many many people out there struggling to support their families because of their low income. I worked without a college degree as a single and just made it by on a low income, not saving anything for the future. I can’t imagine considering a family and retirement thoughts on top of that.

  3. You’re ignoring another option: people who support Trump don’t post about it in Facebook. I know of at least one FB friend who supports him, will talk your ear off about it in person, but won’t post so much as a hint about it on FB. Facebook isn’t hiding personal posts about him on your feed. They surely tailor the sponsored articles you see, but the rants, diatribes, and Breitbart links your friends share wouldn’t be filtered. And they wouldn’t go uncommented on either.

  4. Maybe we should show some interest in these people , and start doing what the church should be doing ! Like loving our neighbors as we want to be loved ! I think many of these people have been kicked and pushed to the breaking point ! And Trump is showing them he cares with his promises ! I have listen to what he has had to say , most of it is ok, but the way he said it is wrong, but it is what they want to hear ! So what do we do to bring them to see he Trump is what he is ! We need to pray there eyes be opened and that Trump sees what he is doing ! Or American will get what it deserves ! And we need to address the needs of the people who are our neighbors by reaching out to them!

  5. It would be unnecessary for people to support hate,racism and deportation if the supporters would realize that no matter who is Presidents all the promises made never come to fruition. We all need to become a more compassionate community based people helping one another so no one feels that relying on the government is their only option.

  6. reading these comments, a lot of supporters are the backgone of society, building and maintaining what made this country great, they talk about it. Voting is their voice. You don’t have to blab all over social media or throw temper tantrums like the liberal media does. They don’t buy into the liberal hate mongering or throwing around hitler and racism claims. They can see past all that bs and cast their vote anyway. Because in the end that vote speaks louder than all the rest.

  7. I am still puzzled. Bernie Sanders also addresses the poor and forgotten, and speaks to how the American dream has been sabotaged by vast income inequality. Yet Bernie does not attack black, Muslim, or Mexican people. There is a difference between championing the working poor, and being a crass bigot.

    1. This might be because Trump has made an effort to address the jobs that used to be held by the low income/no income people who support him. They don’t want the government to take it from someone else to give to them. They want the pride of having done it for themselves by working! Good ole Bernie just doesn’t key into this aspect of the average American because work never appealed to him.

    2. Obviously you don’t listen to anything Trump says as a whole. What you’re repeating is exactly what media shows you snidbits of. He’s not a racist, or attacking of any specific race as a whole. And he’s not a bigot.

    3. Yes! I wonder if it’s the difference between ANGRY citizens and humble citizens. I have learned people LOVE to BLAME! It just seems more and more true to me these days. Jmho

  8. I believe you have missed an important option, that we don’t need to shout it all over Facebook. We are simply going to go to the polls and vote for Trump. Quiet confidence in our choice.

    We’re still listening to what’s being said by all of the runners, of course, and still open to changing our little vote. So far, however, it’s still Trump for many reasons. He knows the corrupt system, he’d be great at the Let’s Make a Deal game show, he does care about turning the country around “somehow,” he believes in the ability of Americans to make a difference in our own country, he’s not going to disarm the people so that big brother government can create a police state, he makes sense regarding his views to make healthcare insurance more competitive, et cetera. Listen for yourself and truly listen and think about the possibility that his methods may actually work — unlike the mess made by all the political “talking heads.”

    1. “He knows the corrupt system”… and you can be damn sure he’ll continue to exploit it to his & his wealthy buddies advantage. If you really think Trump gives a damn about the middle and working class, you’re delusional.

      And his “views to make healthcare insurance more competitive” – ? You really should expand on that one & how they make sense to you because to me that sounds like much of the same ‘ole same ‘ole BS. The cost of MEDICAL CARE needs to come under control – why does a medicine cost so much in the US but costs a fraction of that in other countries? Because of business men like your precious Trump.

      And who the hell is coming after your damn guns?!? NO ONE! Get over it already. Besides, Bernie was PRAISED by the NRA recently. Sheesh…

  9. The ECONOMY for most people is not as good as what they thought it would be, nor what the media or politicians claim it to be. For about a decade the measuring rods used to gauge the economy have been slowly changed to make everything seem oh-so-rosey. People have finally woke up and realized that they have been manipulated and lied to by both parties for years now – and they are not going to take it any more. I personally think that the fall elections are going to be a blood bath for MANY of the incumbents, i.e. they are going to be defeated by newbie challengers. At least that is how I intend to vote, and get out and support the newbies. I am tired of voting people into office that then do no carry through on their promises (ok, they just outright lied to get my vote). So goodbye liars, I am willing to give almost any non-incumbent my support and vote this fall. I hope we see record turnover in the House and Senate. Can these newbies really be much worse than what we have? Think about it, and join me in turning over the apple cart in November.

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