A Quick Word on Social Media, Politics, and Shouting Into the Void

Shortly after the election, right after the nation came together to either rejoice in having their already-dominating voices heard or to ask themselves what the fuck had just happened, the theories as to how the greasy orange businessman came into power started to emerge.

Immediately common targets stepped up to the range and we all began to shoot.

First was the eponymous “fake news”-partisan propaganda designed as actual news. Designed to tear the voters apart, to add to the already great rift between two visions of America. Maybe the sites were designed by the Russians. Maybe the sites would destroy the fabric of our democracy. Maybe we read them because we were stupid and didn’t know how to discern partisan rhetoric from actual journalism. Who knows.

And next came the platforms we all got our news from, and where these sites flourished: social media. Other people who see things different are annoying. We are all incapable of hosting an actual debate without immediately attempting to discredit them and insult them and absolve ourselves from a different opinion without removing these other people from our lives. It’s a shame to democracy, the articles said. How American can you be if you shut yourself off in a giant bubble filled with nothing but people who agree with you and allow yourself to be blinded by your own viewpoint, with no one to challenge it? What kind of democracy is that?

I was one of those who fell for it. I unsubscribed from the propaganda sites I really didn’t read that often anyway and stopped posting and writing political things into my personal echo chamber when political things made me mad. I was a good American. I wanted to give it a chance. And yes, I still do. This is far from the first time I’ve written politically on the blog but I wanted to keep my political views to the column in the magazine which shall remain anonymous.

But now, with the inauguration of one of the most divisive presidents a day away (and look at me, being nice about the man who may try to make it a crime to talk shit about him), I am here to pronounce that the articles lied to you. Maybe not on purpose. Maybe they were just as panicked and confused as we all were. Maybe they didn’t know and sometimes after disastrous and momentous events it takes time for facts to come out.

It is normal to unfriend and block whenever someone disagrees with you. You didn’t jump onto Facebook to argue with some woman you don’t know over foreign policy. That is what the articles forgot to tell you. It’s a natural reaction. Fight-or-flight. And sometimes the fight isn’t worth it.

Two words: Fuck em. One button and they’re gone for good.

But remember that we live in a democracy and the world is filled with people who disagree with you. You should set a standard for how you block and surely it will differ from person to person and that’s fine. But if it is something trivial-however you may define it-maybe you should try to interact. Start a friendly discussion. Be the better person. Talk with another human being over a crucial issue and see what they bring to the table and who knows maybe it will add something to what you already know about it.

Of course, you should draw a line over what you accept and is unacceptable to your values and rid yourself of any who cross it. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and people who call Our Lord and Savior Harambe “just a gorilla” are all good places to start. Same goes for shoestring anti-semitic conspiracy theories and calling Black Lives Matter a terrorist organization with connections to ISIS.

Case in point:

 

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Automatic block. I don’t think I ever tried talking to the guy anyway. No skin off my back and for something so lovably racist he deserves to be shamed in public.

My point here is that it is perfectly fine to block and unfriend whoever you want or need to regardless of what anyone tries to tell you. But the only way we can truly learn about the other side-and what they want in their other version of America-is to open up our ears. Healthy discussion is vital to a healthy society.

As long as you remind people where the boundaries are when you need to.

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