No them, just us.

I joined Twitter in 2009, I didn’t really start using it until 2 years ago. I didn’t really see the point in the beginning. It’s difficult to say a lot in 140 characters and honestly it seemed kind of stupid to me. Two years ago I decided that I wanted to be a bigger part of my community, city, and local politics. Don’t ask me why I thought that was a good idea, it really wasn’t, at least the local politics part of it.

You see I hate politics, I always have. I try to stay current and educated on politics, local, national and world politics, but I hate them just the same. Mainly because there is always an us vs them mentality to politics, and it devolves the behaviour of normally intelligent people to the lowest common denominator.

Twitter magnifies these problems. I’ve followed the Hamilton LRT thing since the beginning, and I’ll tell you up front I am a supporter. But the behaviour of both sides of this argument is disheartening at best. Insults and slurs thrown from both sides, from people that you would expect better from. When I ask why I get childish responses like “they started it” or “we’ve tried to explain but they won’t listen so why bother?”

I don’t get it. At all. Hamilton is one city, one big city after amalgamation, yet we still fight internally like children, and badly behaved children at that. I’ve had discussions about LRT with friends that live in Stoney Creek and their argument is they want better bus service out there first. And yes, Stoney Creek (especially in the Winona area) bus service sucks, but LRT will help alleviate that. As a life long public transit user trust me, the HSR in general sucks.

But this isn’t meant to be an LRT/HSR rant, that’s just one example of the us vs them mentality that people have, and that they display childishly on Twitter.

Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you convinced someone to sway their opinion by calling them an idiot or publicly ridiculing them? Even if their opinions are selfish and idiotic, how often does that tactic work? Or how about attacking someone personally, calling their motives into question, or attacking their intelligence? Does that sound like a productive way to resolve an issue?

I think the main problem with Twitter as a political platform is the gratification factor and I’ll admit it’s addictive. Getting a lot of followers, getting a lot of likes or retweets, it’s somehow validating and I doubt anyone that’s truly honest with themselves will argue. It’s ever so easy to fall into the pile on trap to get those likes and retweets that I think people do it without thinking through their actions, without reading an entire thread of tweets, they simply grab one out of the middle and jump on board.

The more I think about it the more this isn’t just a Hamilton issue, it’s a global one and it’s the root of everything that is wrong with society, white vs black, Muslim vs Catholic (insert any other religions that suit your thoughts), cyclists vs drivers vs pedestrians…. but that is a far larger scope than I want to cover here.

This article is very difficult to keep my train of thought on the tracks, so many tangents I could jump off on, but the main gist of it is the us vs them mentality and both sides are guilty of it, and it really needs to stop.

I am sure we were all taught the Golden Rule at some point in our formative years. It’s time we all remembered that and applied it to our behaviour, especially online. Ridicule and insults aren’t going to sway anyone, and in fact it may sway some people that were on the fence, or are just moderate thinkers, against you. Education and respect are the only ways to garner real support, and if that doesn’t work…. keep trying, stop resorting to lowering yourself to the level of other’s behaviour.

Treat everyone with compassion and respect, even those that don’t reciprocate it.

There is no them. Just us.