Thanks For Your Opinion… I HATE YOU!!
My wife posted something on Facebook recently that said, “How to start an argument online. 1.) Express an opinion, 2.) Wait.”
Those ten simple words speak volumes about our current society and its methods of communication. Expressing a heartfelt opinion online will be met with total and complete intolerance by anyone who disagrees with you. No one bothers to ask, “Gee, can you help me understand why you feel that way?”
Instead you’re a racist, bigot, homophobe, teabagger, right or left wing wacko, religious zealot, atheist, pro-gun, anti gun, pro-life, pro-choice, open borders, closed borders, Koch Bros., George Soros, Fox News, MSNBC, hydraulic fracking, holocaust denying, nut job. Did I leave anyone out?
How Did We Get Here?
Social Media has opened the doors to free expression. The views of over one billion regular users are welcomed daily no matter what they happen to be. But this double-edged sword has also brought conversational discourse to a new low as well.
The wall of protection social media offers gives those using it the ability to say things on line they would never think of saying to someone face-to-face. If you are unable to debate issues than name-calling is the preferred comeback.
Congress And Opinion
I have an opinion that the reason Congress has been so non-productive in the last few years coincides directly with the growth of social media. What easier way to find out what the folks back home think than to monitor social media? And your Facebook friends are very adamant about what they expect of their leadership.
What our legislators apparently fail to realize is that they are only friends with those who think like they do. What California Republican voter would be caught dead being on Barbara Boxer’s friend list? What Democrat with any sense at all would want to be friends with Tex Cruz or Rand Paul?
Polarization Of Thought
Instead of worldwide conversation, and the exchange of views and ideas bringing us closer and solving more of society’s problems, social media has driven a wedge between us and has accelerated class warfare to heights never before seen.
Black vs. white, rich vs. poor, beautiful vs. ugly, old vs. young all in the quest for votes and power.
Everyone has a class they can now call their own. A vocal support group that will do it’s best to take your particular cream to the top — no matter what the cost or whom it hurts.
When it comes to laws and legislation, just like real life, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Whoever is most vocal gets the sound bites on the 11 o’clock news. Cliven Bundy, case in point.
The Danger of Conformity
You’d think varying points of view would create a more informed society but it seems that the opposite has happened. People only seek out views that confirm them individually so they can conform and be accepted by their particular group. Anyone who strays off the reservation is treated as an outcast and ostracized.
Being a talk show host has really opened my eyes to examining points of view with which I totally disagree. However, I know that my listeners are going to voice those positions on my show and I need to be able to address them in a respectful manner. I can’t do that without examining all sides with an open mind.
Some Final Thoughts
If you are confident in your beliefs then there is simply no way that conflicting views can hurt you. There is no need to silence opposing thoughts. We all need to open our minds a little wider and respect the thoughts of others even if we disagree.
Start actively searching for opposing views on topics you are passionate about. Best-case scenario you’ll just confirm you’re right. Worst-case scenario you might change your mind and you’d still be right with your new point of view.
So in the long run you have nothing to lose. That’s my opinion — and I don’t hate you.