Why We Shouldn’t Unfriend Each Other
I had quite the predicament early in this election cycle. One friend wrote a Facebook post, “If you are supporting Hillary Clinton in this election, unfriend me now!” And a few days later, another friend wrote: “If you are supporting Donald Trump, unfriend me now!”
Yikes. I was at a loss, so I did neither.
Admittedly, I felt critical of each of my friends for their brash statements. But it dawned on me I was doing something similar. I had installed a Twitter app that automatically followed people with similar interests to mine, namely faith and mental health. Many of those who claimed Christ were also pledging allegiance to Trump, and in a very passionate manner. This was around the time our nation was really started to heat up about Trump, including yours truly. I was not a rider on the “Trump train,” so I started going through the list of Twitter users my app selected who boldly claimed Trump, and started unfollowing. It felt funny at the time, and soon I understood why.
Similar to my blog, I also Tweet about faith and fear in order to help set people free from the things that bind them. So why would I withhold these tweets from Trump supporters? If I felt their views were faulty enough to unfollow, then wouldn’t they need help, too?
And wouldn’t the Trump supporters want the Clinton supporters to understand their views? Or vice versa? Though this is sort of understanding is highly unlikely to occur on social media, it is completely impossible if we are no longer connected.
The thing we should be fighting in our culture isn’t each other, but rather the polarization that separates us.
We Are The Media
When I was a newspaper reporter in the mid-2000s, people frequently approached me about the content we were producing. “I really like it that you are printing those positive stories. That’s what we need more of,” they said. Or, “why can’t you print something happy every once in a while?” The funny thing was that if I asked if they read the feel-good stories, they’d say No. They just liked the idea of them being around.
On Twitter, the other day I tweeted “You can’t take the ‘Me’ out of ‘Media.’” Meaning, if you and I don’t engage in what’s on television, advertising dollars will shrink up and it won’t exist. This has never been more true than now. With our social media connections rapidly becoming central to our world, we no longer need to point at the newspapers to tell them what to publish, we can do it ourselves with the flick of the wrist (or the click of a button). We can share all the happy stories we want. But do we?
Poet Dorothy Parker once said, “It’s easier to write about those you hate – just as it’s easier to criticize a bad play or a bad book.” This goes for Facebook statuses and Tweets, as well. Look around. Even if people are in favor of a presidential candidate, I’d bet 75 percent of their posts about the race are about the vileness of the other candidate.
Even though there is currently a lot of blame being placed on the media, it’s really up to us, not the tastemakers at The New York Times or Fox News, what content gets zapped across the world.
You Be The Judge
The other day when a Republican office in North Carolina was firebombed, and Trump shelled out a Tweet blaming “animals representing Hillary Clinton.” I read an opinion piece that pointed out that no matter who did it, or for whatever reason, they should not be called an “animal,” having their humanity removed. I nodded in agreement, but then it hit me that I’ve surely done the same during this election season, too.
Anyone is at risk of our razor sharp judgment at lightning speeds nowadays. In the second debate, Town Hall voice Ken Bone with his red sweater and warm face became a national treasure overnight, but the next night he was disgraced, thrown to the trash heap because of some seedy comments he’d made on Reddit. Or there was the Trump supporter who famously punched a protestor during a Trump rally for fear he was a terrorist. That got a piling heap of judgment, including my own. I think I called him an animal.
We have always been judgmental people. It’s in our wiring since we are made in the image of the ultimate judge, God (though he warned us not to do that). So I guess it probably won’t go away any time soon. And neither will all of this insanity. Even if Trump is defeated on Nov. 8, the anthill he’s fired up isn’t going anywhere, and we’ll be more privy to it than ever thanks to social media.
To look on the bright side, I believe this anthill has always been there, we just wanted to believe it wasn’t, and now we’re going to have to face it. What we are experiencing is a small price to pay for progress. We must work together and understand each other’s differences, rather than “unfriend” each other.