I won’t lie, I lost sleep last night over the content of this blog post. I woke up at 5 a.m. and my fingers were on fire because I felt the need to write. I have had so much on my mind the past 48 hours that it has been difficult to even find solace in the things I enjoy most.
As of January 20, 2017, America received a new president, as we do every four to eight years. Past elections have not been quite this intense, as some of you may have noticed, or perhaps some were too young to remember. Whatever the case, the concentration of the election was amplified due to our ability to tell the world how we feel, when we feel it, and why. Bare with me here, it is fine to share your triumph and your grief, but we have got to do better.
We have all been in a heated Facebook argument with a bellicose “friend” who will insult your intelligence, belittle you, call you names, and indubitably become offended by your opinion. It doesn’t matter which side of the line you stand on, we’ve all been there. Facebook is great when your grandkids graduate kindergarten, you get a new puppy, you get a car, you share the news of paying off your student loans and such, but Facebook becomes a complete nightmare when it comes to historical movements and political matters. Here are a few things I hope we can all keep in mind during these cantankerous times:
1.) Realize that posting your opinion will undeniably result in backlash. Whatever you post is up for argument when it is on Facebook. It is there for the world to see on a public platform and, right now, everyone is feeling a little passionate. Post what you want, but if you want to avoid an argument I probably would steer clear of vulgarity. You can oppose something in a way that will not subject you to ridicule and criticism.
2.) Recognize a troll when you see one. Stop giving your responses to people who clearly don’t care about the topic at hand. If they are in your comments to simply ruin your day, move on. You can tell who the trolls are. They often have no basis for their argument and don’t always come across as the brightest button on the First Lady’s dress. If they are just there to read the comments they want to read and like the comments they want to like, move on.
3.) Stop insulting the intelligence of others based on how they view a subject. This is crucial. If, for no other reason than to save face, stop putting other people down because they disagree with you. There is no lower form of pompous behavior than to insult one’s educational background for simply revealing that their beliefs conflict with yours. It is rude, it is uncalled for, and it is hateful. If you are truly concerned about their education on a subject, instead of saying “It is clear that you are uneducated and have no idea what you are talking about”, try “Well, I read something the other day that really puts this topic in a positive light. I would love to share it with you if you would like to read it”. It makes a world of difference to offer something to someone rather than to insult them.
4.) Understand the main issues in today’s world, and remind yourself that there will always be two sides to those issues. I hate to inform you all, but topics like gay marriage, feminism, free the nipple, black lives matter, religion, conservation of the constitution, veganism, white privilege, refugee matters, poverty, legalization a marijuana, and taxes will always, forever and all eternity, have two sides. That is just true. You cannot expect everyone around you to agree on such diverse subjects and this is why: everyone in the United States of America has a different vision, opinion, and meaning for what the word “progression” means. To some, progression is being able to walk down the street, topless while smoking a joint. To others, progression is bringing God back into schools and going back to recognizing two genders. FACT: neither idea is more right than the other. Stay cool, you are still entitled to your opinion.
5.) Don’t use condescending conduct to make your point. It literally hurts my eyes when I read people’s comments on subjects and they use the term “actually” completely out of context. For example: Sally and Susan are arguing over LGBT equality. Sally is an avid church attender at the First Methodist Church of Pence and Susan is a socially liberal student at Bernie University. They get into a heated argument over gay marriage and Susan finally says to Sally “Your opinion is actually toxic. You are actually the worst kind of human on the planet. You actually do not know what you are talking about”. I see this too often, so let me just clear the air: ACTUALLY (adverb): is the truth or facts of a situation; really. Your opinion, contrary to what your mother told you growing up, is not a fact. There are statistics to back every argument in the world, utilize them.
6.) Engage in a conversation, not an argument. Ask questions, you may learn something. Rather than accusing each other back and forth of having the wrong opinion, what is so wrong with enlightening one another? If you feel that you absolutely cannot go on with your day without, first, inquiring about a Facebook status that does not settle well with you, simply offer a perspective that opposes the said statement. Don’t hop on to someone’s status and start throwing around accusations and harsh words. Share your experience, ask a question, ask for a link so you can read up on their opinion for better understanding. That’s just it. We don’t even care to understand each other, anymore. We don’t communicate. We just bash and hate. Both sides are guilty of it to a degree that is upsetting.
Anyone who knows me, personally, knows that I am the queen of sharing my beliefs on social media. I’ve tried to tone it down a bit, but to the things that matter most to me, you bet I’ll be the first one to speak up. However, I’ve tried to take a different approach, these days. At one point, I left Facebook for a few months to conduct readings and studies of my own without the distraction or influence of my peers and memes. When I returned to Facebook, I swore to myself I would not waste a second more arguing with someone without the intent of reaching a common solution, which does not mean ultimately agreeing with one another. When I say common solution, I mean I will do my very best to hear the other person from a view point that is not mine. I don’t have to agree with them, they don’t have to agree with me.
I wasn’t always like that. I was very ignorant at one point, which is incredibly embarrassing to admit but it is true. But I believe that when it comes to certain subjects, we, as humans, find it easier to bury our heads in the sand instead of learn. We are afraid we will prove ourselves wrong. We’re afraid of not being right. We are afraid of each other.
It’s the exchange of ideas without the concept of attack that makes for a healthy narrative, thus, makes for a better understanding, and THAT is progress that I hope we can all get behind. And as we move forward, I pray that we do so unified. May we learn to respect each others views and beliefs in realization that one person cannot please every community if every community cannot find common ground.