You cannot deny it: This election cycle has turned many ordinarily well spoken folk into ravening beasts foaming at the mouth when confronted with opposition.
I just witnessed a super nice, somewhat reserved person post her political view online for the very first time. Shockingly, at least to me, one of her social media”friends” immediately, aggressively condemned her. There was no discussion. There were no questions. She was simply told that because of her views, which had been politely phrased, she was obviously ignorant. Point blank. Ignorant. This “friend” scolded on, stating that it was hoped the girl would “start to think…” The commenter topped it off by condescendingly adding that she was “sorry” she needed to unfriend her, but there simply was no choice. Really?
If she had promised to unfriend me, I would have cheered without hesitation. No loss there.
“Sorry?” I doubt it. The aggressor was way too high on her horse looking down her nose to suffer regret. Who is she fooling? And what puts her in the position to pass judgement at all? “Start to think?!” How dare the commenter decide this girl is less informed because she came to a different conclusion.Talk about logical fallacy. It is the commenter here who needs to stop and reassess. Her post was arrogant and thoughtless, callous and unnecessary. She rendered unequivocal judgement based on her perceived superior thought process. She hurt someone and did it deliberately over a simple difference of opinion. Being summarily dismissive is no act of friendship.
Of course there is a choice. She could have accepted that someone felt differently about an issue. Since when has thinking for oneself become a criminal act? So you disagree. That is perfectly okay. Agree to disagree. You can (and probably should) have friends with a variety of opinions. Do you choose your friendships based on a single trait? Must they only share your point of view to be deemed acceptable? I would hope not. How boring.
The responder could have chosen whether it was worth examining or exploring differences. It is not required that anyone comment on a post. Perhaps she could have scrolled by without stopping to offer insult. She could have responded thoughtfully, mindful of her friend’s feelings. She could have responded honestly from a position of friendship. This is known as civil discourse. It is a form of social manners. It is an exercise we expect of our offspring by the time they are of kindergarten age.
For some reason adults have forgotten how to play nice. We are too busy being offended, aggrieved and oh so right all the time about everything. We no longer behave as if we understand the most basic elements of friendship, most notably that of respect.
Judging others does not make you more intelligent. It simply demonstrates that you are closed minded and unwilling to listen when others disagree with you. It certainly does not confer superiority in any way. Express yourself all you want, but at least attempt to be civil with those who are giving you the courtesy of hearing or reading your views. Ranting is unproductive. Slurs and vindictiveness are simply ugly. Clear and measured reasoning carries weight. Choose to communicate with style and dignity.
We used to talk politics around the dinner table every Thanksgiving. It was a fun exercise, as I had an uncle who simply loved playing The Devil’s Advocate. He would stake an outrageous position and argue it to the best of his ability. He would get everyone going and then laugh and laugh. It was fun and educational. We all loved and respected one another. We knew it was good to examine issues from all perspectives and it was your right to decide how you felt. We respected each other and trusted that we would think our own matters through to the best of our ability. We disagreed often, and that was okay. If anything our disagreements added a healthy dose of spice to our relationships, not to mention a heavy dose of humor. They strengthened our affection.
We had all types in our extended family: curmudgeons, liberals, feminists, gay, conservatives, substance abusers, traditionalists, revolutionaries…and we loved them all for their individuality. Each person broadened our family understanding of the world around us. We learned to look at any set of circumstances from several unique perspectives.
I wish that colorful bunch was still here today to argue about the 2016 presidential race. I can just imagine how fun the disagreements would be! There are so many avenues currently open to conversation that I cannot imagine how adventurous and colorful our journey would have been. I do know at the end of the day, regardless of where we individually stood on matters, we would still have loved and respected one another with humor, depth and understanding. Of course my older relatives never had the chance to debate politics on a social media platform. Just as well I guess. The internet might have imploded. My uncle would have loved every minute of it.