Monday, November 28, 2016

The Unfriending of America

While I personally have seen a lot of good stem from social media and increased abilities to instantaneously communicate and connect with other people, there is a disturbing undercurrent raging these days.

Never before have we had such a climate of contentious happenings and over powering opinions. Well…..opinions are like that bodily orifice which shall remain nameless…we all have one. Some of us are better at expressing ours, some of us buy what we are spoon fed by others, some of us believe anything and everything we read and hear, others refuse to believe what they see with their own eyes, some of us ignore the rattling skeletons in our own closets while dragging others through the sludge, and fewer of us take the time to be well informed and truly knowledgeable about what we believe. We are all different…we are diverse…we are each unique…and we are each important.

Many years ago I was told there were two things you should absolutely NOT discuss….religion and politics. I used to wonder why because both of those subjects were interesting to me personally because I wanted to know why people thought and felt the way they did about those two issues in particular.

After the past few years, I no longer wonder why those things should be taboo. Those two things can cause more misunderstandings, divisiveness, and actual pain than anything else on earth.
We are a better informed people….some of us are at least, but all of us want to think we have the answers and it usually fits our own agenda and how we will personally be affected by that viewpoint. Does it make any of us wrong? Therein lies the question of the ages…..if you base your opinions on your own experience and your own need and your own information….are you wrong? And, if someone respectfully disagrees with you based on their own beliefs and tries to bring another tier of discussion to the table, how should you handle that? I believe a respectful and free thinking people are enriched by good and honest debate.

About 5 years ago I started to see a trend in my own social media experience. Suddenly….there were some folks who had dropped me like a hot rock because I didn’t think or feel the same way they did. I am grateful, I think, that they didn’t make grand pronouncements….they just sort of slipped away. It made me sad….some of them I had known since I was very very little….but because I had differing opinions, they chose to “break fellowship” with me. And, I missed them.

The first instance of this happening made me vow that I would never be someone who cut ties with anyone because I did not agree with them in a social media forum. And….I have remained true to that vow. I’m not going to say that I have failed to express myself both on my own postings and the postings of others because I most certainly have utilized my right to defend my position when I felt I should but I will say I have tried very very hard to be respectful, kind, humorous and tolerant in doing so. I hope I’ve been successful. If I haven’t, I have no doubt someone will make sure to point it out to me.

One of the things that has been most disturbing to me is the willingness of people to allow their “like minded” so called friends to verbally eviscerate someone who disagrees with them….even if that person is someone they have a very close connection with. Does this mean we are willing to lose very real people in our lives in order to have the stamp of approval of those we will probably never have to physically interact with in life ever again? Allowing anyone to call someone else vile, disgusting and a traitor to their race or gender on one of your posts is simply unacceptable to me. And….I don’t care who you are….or how thick your skin is….things like that are hurtful.

One of the things that might fix our divisions in some small way is if we could manage to communicate without resorting to hateful name calling or labeling those of us who feel differently than we do. And we are all responsible for how we allow people to be treated in our commentary….you cannot plead for tolerance for all people while allowing someone to be shouted down and maligned without your own intervention.

It seems that the ability to hide behind a keyboard and a monitor while sipping coffee in our pajamas is not making us a kinder group of people. We are retreating into our own little comfy bubbles of our own opinions while forgetting some of the people who might disagree with us actually really love us and are the ones who are listening when we have problems and are the ones who will “step up” in spite of a ridiculous difference of opinion.

And so, in closing, if I liked you last year…..I still do. If I loved you last year….I still do, more in fact. If I’ve allowed anyone to disrespect your opinion by labeling you or trying to make you feel less than you are….I am horribly sorry. If you’ve allowed that to happen to me….I forgive you. I’m hurt, but I forgive you and am waiting to resurrect that which has been lost between us. But, if you are content with a separation I release you and wish you peace!