To everyone posting political messages on Facebook:
You have opinions. Great. You deserve credit for taking the time to form opinions about things that matter in life.
Please choose your words carefully.
The internet, Facebook, and other forms of social media are like any other tools; they can be used for good and they can be just as easily misused.
My newsfeed seems to be blown up with angry political posts on a near daily basis, so much to the point that we’ve come to identify anger as an almost integral part of the political process.
Trust me, it’s not. There are other, more productive ways of effecting change. They might appear momentarily less effective, but in the end they produce more meaningful and lasting changes and most importantly, they do so without adding to the amount of pain and strife in the world.
The internet, in many ways, has become a place where we can speak, uncensored. How have we been making use of this privilege and responsibility? Criticizing the opposite gender? Berating elected officials? Belittling and mocking anyone that holds any values that are different to ours?
Through the internet we can divorce ourselves from the consequences of our actions. We don’t have to see any hurt expressions directly in front of us. We aren’t aware of the harm we are causing and noise we are adding to the political dialogue. In fact, bolstered by the support of our similarly angry and like-minded friends (the reason that they are our friends), we might actually believe that we are doing some good.
Let us have no illusions about this. We can either add our voice and our opinion to an important dialogue, or we can resort to name-calling and finger-pointing– the effect of which is not much more than cyber-bullying. What’s the difference? Our targets are older? They had it “coming?” They’re not going to kill themselves afterwards because they should be able to take criticism?
No matter what rationalizations we choose to employ, our actions are not any less mean-spirited and counter-productive.
If you have an opinion, say it. Say it clearly and openly, without any passive aggression, without insisting that everyone else on the planet is wrong and an idiot, without anger.
Even beyond that, lobbying and voting for your beliefs is most certainly a worthy cause, but I challenge to also implement those beliefs into your own lives. Look first to yourselves. What are the principles you believe in? Can you identify them and then apply them to your own way of life?
You believe in free access to information? Great. Then what can you do in your own life to make sure you are as honest as you demand of your politicians? Are there “white lies” you could stop telling? Can you be taking more responsibility for your mistakes?
You believe that every individual has the right to choose? Fantastic. Then what are some ways that you can strive to respect the decisions of others, as opposed to trying to change their minds, convince them to agree with you, or manipulate them in some other way.
Complaining is cheap. Whining is easy. Let’s hear some solutions. I challenge you to take a deeper look at the role you play in our society. Are you contributing in the way you want, the way you’d hoped you would?