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“ While my grandparents speak of an era where religious, political and personal conversations were off the table, I, along with my generation, have become accustomed to reading and very readily knowing the political, social and religious views of my friends, families, and just about anyone with a social media profile.”

I don’t know what era your grandparents speak of but I doubt it ever existed. The commonly used phrase was that you didn’t discuss politics, religion or money in “polite company”. That generally meant “with people you don’t know really well”. But all three were discussed to varying degrees among friends and close family.

The shift, from my perspective, is in how these things start out. In your grandparents generation (which very well be *my* generation), you got to know people as friends, associates, etc… first. You built up a relationship based on common interests. If things went well, THEN you could discuss politics, religion, etc… without coming to blows. But that took years of recurring physical contact. In the mean time, you learned about their family. What their kids were up to, that their wife had cancer, that their father died, etc.. You built shared experiences. You had skin in the game (aka “Social capital”). If you disagreed and ended up in a major blow-out, you weren’t just dismissing some random stranger. You lost your friends and social network.

Your generation (and I’m generalizing here…) meets and connects via social media within hours (if not minutes) and immediately sees the other person’s political, religious, etc… views splattered all over Facebook before they’ve ever developed any sort of actual relationship. If you disagree you simply disengage right there. You “unfriend” them, block them or simply ignore them. You see only what they show you. You haven’t built that relationship to have an understanding of where they are coming from. You don’t know their past or what their hopes for the future are. You only know the superficial crap they are willing tell the world. There is no investment in them or social capital involved.

This is, IMO, the great failing of social media. It’s great for passing quick info to a lot of people. But the “relationship” side of it tends to be a mile wide and an inch deep. You can’t understand what motivates people by just reading the memes they post.

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