This is the reason I tend not to post political things on Facebook. I watch my friends’ political posts. For me, the comments that follow mostly come across as a mixture of road rage and mutual masturbation. Those who agree “like” the post and make affirmative comments stroking each others’ similar opinions. Those who disagree get inflamed and post their angry dissention. Many times it turns into a free for all, with tempers flared and people saying things they would probably never say in person.
I have not once seen a person change their mind in one of these exchanges, although I will give the benefit of the doubt that maybe after tempers cooled some were left with food for thought.
While I firmly believe it is possible to have civil, thoughtful, positive discourse on the internet, most of what I see is not discourse. It is people reposting and regurgitating their “side.” A recent exception was when a dear, sweet friend of mine posted her thoughts on athletes kneeling during the national anthem. While her opinion on this subject differs from my own, her thoughtful, non aggressive way of explaining where her feelings were based (they were not reactionary, rather experiential and based in genuine caring for people) made me both appreciate where she was coming from and respect how she came to this point of view.
She did not “change my mind” but she did open up another area of understanding for me.
The internet is an incredible tool via which we have a wealth of knowledge and communication right at our fingertips. It is also tricky as SO much “information” is available. So much of it gets shared without fact checking what we put out there. I see mass misinformation and outright lies being shared on a daily basis. It comes from all sides. Just because we have a gut reaction to agree with something does not make it “right”, and I feel we owe it to ourselves and the world to fact check the information we decide to share.
The more something gets shared, the more it becomes gospel. Do we really want to be conspiratorial in helping to rewrite history? Less can many times be more. Especially if it is something of quality and value. We all have our triggers, and mine is when people are unkind and make generalizations and/or dispersions about any group of beings, be it due to race, sexuality, gender, nationality, religion or even political persuasion.
Life is short, and if we can only be one thing, let’s please try to be kind. Being kind begins with listening rather than reacting. Being kind also means standing up for those being maligned, mistreated and bullied.
I believe if we all followed these 2 guidelines the internet would become a much happier space:
1) Before we share, make sure that what we are sharing is something that is actually true, to the best we can determine. There are places we can fact check much information that is out there.
2) Before we comment on what others share, take a moment. Think about what we are going to say. Would we truly say this to that person if they were standing in front of us?
As Don Henley so eloquently put it “Armchair warriors often fail, and we’ve been poisoned by these fairy tales.”