It is election day plus 1, and a very emotional day with no way to win for many.
Social media was a force to be reckoned with this election year. No matter what position you take, the world is ready to pounce on you and tell you why YOU are evil, intolerant or a deplorable — and the reason for all their woes. This isn’t a new problem, though… All of the liberal vs conservative issues are causing rifts between otherwise civil people, and it seems to be the worst on Facebook and twitter.
If I say I am for Hillary:
i am part of the “corrupt system.”
If I say I am against Hillary:
I am stupid and uneducated
If I say I am for Trump:
I am against women,
I am religiously intolerant,
I am a bigot
If I say I am against Trump:
I am against the 2nd amendment,
I don’t have any idea how government works,
I am part of the problem with American society,
I am against the police
Stay with me now, this isn’t meant to make people angry, but it is mean to shine some light on a social dilemma that has the potential to eat us all alive.
If I say I am for Black Lives Matter:
as a white guy, other white people say I am stupid,
and that I should be saying “all lives matter”
If I offer up any constructive criticism for BLM:
i am racist
If I say I like Obama:
i am a socialist, and blind to the abuse of power
If I say I don’t like Obama:
I am a racist
If I say that owning a gun for defense is ok:
I am a radical gun-nut
I subscribe to an obsolete view of our constitution
If I say that I don’t think most people need a gun:
I am a freedom-hater, and want to abolish the 2nd amendment
If I say I support abortion:
I am a murderer, and I deserve religious judgement
If I say I am against abortion:
I am a hater of women,
I am a chauvinist
If I have faith and observe a religion:
I am a gullible fool
I don’t belong in the science community
If I think that somebody’s faith is wrong or silly:
I am intolerant
If I say I support same-sex marriage:
I am a hypocrite
I want to abandon the foundation of the USA
If I say that I oppose same-sex marriage:
I am simple-minded and intolerant
You see — the thing is, most of these, maybe even ALL of them, are not simple binary yes/no issues, yet people respond in very binary ways. If you mention abortion or same-sex marriage online at all, chances are that you will lose, because the most opinionated people will point out why your opinion is wrong.
I am greatly concerned that social media is destroying civility. Facebook is a great place to share opinions, however many people that I talk to have a growing concern about sharing any opinions online. This is because sharing about something that means a lot to you opens you up to attacks, sometimes very serious ones. This isn’t helping people have healthy conversations — this is turning into a bullying match. Somehow the most aggressive people online seem to think that attacking people as obnoxiously as possible will somehow make the recipient change their mind and be a good little lemming of your doctrine.
The violent retaliatory responses that people post on the internet are a full-swing (in a bad way) turn from why people fell in love with the internet in the first place. Dating and social discussions thrived, because people who were socially awkward could actually find a voice with a degree of separation through a computer. Now, those who are comfortable with their online presence have taken to vicious attacks on others — so much so, that real-world socialites would rather suppress their online opinions for fear of getting flamed. Neither extreme is good.
So what could we learn from all this? I am not going to say “what SHOULD” we learn, because then somebody will flame me for telling you how to feel or think. What we *could* be learning from this is that the people on the other side of the computer are real, flesh-and-blood, people with feelings too. If you wouldn’t yell your angry response to one of your friends’ faces, then you shouldn’t be talking that way online. It is all too easy to “dump” on people, but it DOES have an affect on others. It may seem therapeutic to you, but you are doing damage to people on the other end of the wire. It is hard to have empathy via the Internet, but we need to try.
Its time to take a stand and bring common decency to social media discussions before it completely turns into anti-social networking.