A few weeks ago I decided to stop arguing on social media. I decided it would be good for my soul not to argue with people that were’t going to change their minds any time soon and were usually a half-step from calling me names. I didn’t stop posting my opinions, but I stopped responding to everyone that emerged from my friend’s list to prove me wrong. It just doesn’t seem productive.
Certainly the creators of social media know something about us. They know that there is something core in us that makes us want to punish ourselves like this. So, with my extra time (not having to argue so much) I’ve been thinking what it is that keeps us coming back for more.
We want to be heard
There are some things we all have in common. There are some things that we have in common with groups or organizations. But, when you mix all the subtleties about us us and take a good hard look, there is something unique about all of us and I think that is what we want everyone to see. We want people to say, “I admire that about you” or “That was a unique, insightful observation.” When I was a pastor, I noticed that when the good people came to visit the person that was sick, along with the casarole they brought a carefully crafted speech that sometimes went well–sometimes it didn’t. They wanted to be heard distinctly — they wanted to be significant.
We want to be liked
I don’t know if Zuckerburg did any research but he made it really easy to show someone that you acknowledge them. We don’t have to think about it much, just push the button. There have been times when I was talking to my wife, and after 20 minutes, she might say saomething like “are you listening to me?” She wanted to know, “do you acknowledge what I’m saying?” “Do you like it?” “Do you love it?” “Is it funny?” Feedback please.
We want to have impact
Most people I know try to minimize the impact they hope to have in case they fail; but at this point I’m assuming no one would too heartily resist recognizition for doing a great humanitarian effort, or inspiring the world to get healthy or solving any number of world problems. We don’t just want to get better, we want to help others. It’s a good thing, but it’s frustrating when you try to bring others along.
We open up to criticism
I don’t know exactly why people feel like they have to give you their opinion. Maybe they think you are in danger and someone should warn you. Maybe they don’t want you to get ahead of them. Or, possibly they have any number of problems that human beings have and they just don’t work and play well with others. But, it’s just the negative side of going out in “public.” When we do just about anything, we discover the critics. Ocassionally they are helpful—usually they are not.
We open up to misunderstanding
It is true there are limitations to social media in terms of communication. However, in my situations, I have noticed the misunderstandings were from the same source as in-person communication. I was in too big of a hurry and didn’t pay attendtion to what was being said.
Developing a realistic approach
Let me offer some suggestions that might help.
First, I think it is helpful to acknowledge that anything we say politically will not be accepted by half of the population to one degree or another. So, just understand that when you make a statement and someone else says, “That is stupid.” Just say to yourself, “Oh, there you are!”
Second, when we say something religious, be assured that there are at least 100 different religious angles represented on you friends list. My children taught me to say, “I believe…” or “I think…,” so that when they disagree you can say to yourself, “I assumed someone would disagree with this.”
Every issue or belief has several differrent vantage points and it helps to remember that we have been wrong before and we will probably be wrong again. It may be helpful to say, “What’s makes you believe that?” or “Where did you get that information?” It doesn’t ensure you won’t get in a fight, but Jesus seemed to think asking questions was more productive. They did crucify him, so never mind — trust your heart of something like that.
I think probably the whole thing has something to do with not taking yourself too seriously and I’m still deconstructing out of that religious pattern. So pray for me or send me vibes or whatever you do.
Hopefully I’m groiwng