The great thing about social media is that it’s a tool that gives all of us a voice on the current issues of the day. The terrible thing about social media is that it’s a tool that gives all of us a voice on the current issues of the day.
It has gotten pretty bad. People have their opinions and aren’t afraid to publish them online. While healthy debate is a great thing that should be encouraged, most of it has been very unhealthy. More like mean and nasty.
Republicans and Democrats generally want the same things. They want a strong economy and a safe and secure America. They just have different opinions for how to achieve them.
I overheard two men talking the other day. They were commenting on how divisive the country has become since Obama became president. Do they remember the Clinton impeachment? Have they not read about Watergate? John Adams was so bitter that he didn’t even attend Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration after losing to him. Hatred and divisiveness between the two sides is as old as the Constitution.
And if we have become more divisive, it’s safe to say that social media is more responsible for it than any individual or political party.
We’ll never agree. We’re not supposed to. Our founding fathers wanted us to have the freedom to voice our opinions and self-govern. But what if we followed a few simple rules to make it more intelligent and civil.
1) Stop the name calling. There are a lot of people out there that think anyone that disagree with them is a moron. They reason that their own opinion is so blatantly obvious that anyone who sees it differently must have some kind of mental disability. Calling people on the other side ugly names might make you feel better, but it doesn’t accomplish anything. Instead of hurling insults…
2) Debate the issues. If you disagree with someone, talk about the issues you disagree with. Whether you want a wall along our border, or want borders completely open, hold an intelligent conversation that focuses on why you want that and why America would be a better country if we did. And before you start spewing data that you found online…
3) Check your facts. Mark Twain famously said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” And the internet has given us more statistics than we know what to do with. Some of them are even accurate. Journalists (ethical ones anyway) are taught to check the validity of a fact with three separate sources. Wouldn’t it be neat if we had to do that before we tweeted our own statistics?
People make numbers up all of the time. Or they take valid numbers and only tell part of the story to make their side sound more correct, honest, or logical. It’s very easy to see a statistic you agree with and quickly repost it. But it’s also lazy and a bit dishonest. If the issue is that important to you, it shouldn’t be too difficult to do a little research to get the facts right and tell the true story. And while you’re researching…
4) Listen. It’s liberating, and maybe therapeutic to sound off and voice your opinion. But we rarely learn anything if we don’t listen to others. There are very intelligent people out there that disagree with you. They might have a point that you haven’t considered.
Stop listening and watching TV and radio stations that you agree with. Open your mind and tune in to shows that hold different opinions and debate all sides of issues. There’s a saying that if a business has two partners who always agree, there is one too many partners. You’re not going to learn anything by listening to someone that always holds the same opinion that you do.
Be the change you want to see
No politician is going to make America great. America is not a bunch of politicians. America is you and me. It’s how we communicate with each other and solve problems. The Founding Fathers gave us a huge treasure with the freedom of speech. Many brave people have died protecting that freedom. Don’t you think we owe it to them to be civil to each other and debate issues intelligently?
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