There are too many agitators, too many trolls, too many bots, and not enough conversations. Everything is the start of an argument. This is true on the right and on the left too. People feel entitled to a shouting match because they left a comment. I’ve been accused of many things, on the strength of a single tweet. People levy accusations and criticisms after seeing one opinion.
But I’m no saint either. I can be dismissive, condescending, and argumentative. I chase the win. I live for the subreddit /r/MurderedByWords. There’s a satisfaction in the call out, and a misguided sense of justice in making someone give up on a debate.
But it’s a false sense of progress. We don’t change minds by calling others idiots or making them angry and defensive. I know this, maybe they know this too.
Despite my shortcomings and occasional missteps, I like to think that more often than not, I work toward having productive conversations. It is tough when some of the talking points of others are based on objectively incorrect information, or a straw-man interpretation of my views. It’s tough to remain calm and reasonable when you’re subjected to name calling and assumptions about your every belief.
But this is where we are, and in 2008, I never thought that social media would become this. I was naive. I fell hard for the kumbaya koolaid. I believed in the better side of humanity setting the right example for the dark underbelly. But I was wrong.
I don’t know if we can turn it around, but here’s my take:
- Start with kindness and civility
- Check your sources and be open-minded to discuss ideas
- Be willing to admit you are wrong
These are just a few ideas along with checking your sources, being slow to judge and quick to apologize. Maybe we can turn this ship around, because if we can’t, we’d all be better off doing anything other than posting our thoughts online.