As We Enter This Election Season…
EPBOT had a great post recently on unfriending on Facebook; namely, people who tell people to unfriend them due to their beliefs. As in, “Feel free to unfriend me if you’re going to vote for Trump.”
EPBOT asks an important question:
When did we become so intolerant of opposing viewpoints that we feel the need to sever all ties – with casual acquaintances OR our closest friends – over things like GMO crops and health care reform? When did agreement on ALL issues become a prerequisite for friendship?
It’s not just challenging others to unfriend us, or begging others to unfriend us if they support or believe in x, y, or z. It’s also the rabid unfriending that goes hand in hand with emotionally charged events like elections. Unfriending (or blocking) the people who negatively impact your life, of course, but I’m talking about unfriending simply because you don’t share the same beliefs when it comes to emotionally-charged issues.
I think the vast majority of us don’t have to worry too much about Internet Mob Justice, but everyone on social media needs to deal with the slights and fights that occur on the personal level such as the unfriending, which feels akin to a shunning, simply because someone expressed their beliefs. It makes you think before you post, wondering if speaking aloud is worth it. It means that sometimes really good points aren’t going to be made because someone just doesn’t feel like dealing with the fallout from their friends or followers list.
Internet Mob Justice is the extreme — like a big, gaping wound — but that doesn’t mean that the paper cuts that occur within our small social media streams don’t sting.
We’re in election season again. It will only ramp up and become more intense by the fall.
I think EPBOT’s post is an important reminder that we don’t have to curate our streams so the only people left mirror our ideas. That we can listen. We can stop the name calling. We don’t have to belittle in order to make our point. And we don’t have to unfriend people along the way. If we disagree, we can think for a moment whether it is worth having a calm discussion, or whether it is better to scroll away.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m going to continue to be your friend and listen to what you have to say, even if we disagree on political candidates, religion, or a host of hot-button issues.