OPINION: Respect

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As a teenager in the early 2000s, I had political “opinions”. Well, I thought I had political opinions, but really they were just regurgitations of things I’d picked up at home mixed with some basic feelings on social issues.

One time, my uncle came to visit and called me out on these “opinions” and I became upset because, in all honesty, I didn’t really have any foundation to base these opinions on. I didn’t know much about the government or politics at the time and most of my “opinions” came from strong feelings. These feelings register now as just a general sense of social awareness and became the foundation for my interest in politics.

However, these weak “opinions” and my unease when attempting to defend them taught me a few very important lessons:

  1. If you don’t know something, say so.
  2. Research your side and defend it.
  3. Be open to civil discourse.
  4. Respect your opponent.

Fast forward to 2018. Now, we have something called social media where everyone can put their “opinions” out there in the universe, offend anyone anywhere, and never have to have that awkward moment that happens when someone is in front of you calling you out on your B.S.

Social media has become a forum for anyone anywhere to just spew hatred, bigotry, untruths, insults, and lies. It’s a vehicle for a whole slew of media companies to spin their perspectives to suit their audience regardless of facts, and it’s how our president has decided to speak to us and belittleĀ his political opponents.

Throughout the last year, I have been consistently surprised to see that there are so many people in this world who are willing to degrade another human being through social media. Digital communication is still communication and if it would make you uncomfortable to say something in person, you shouldn’t say it on Twitter or Facebook.

Looking at all of the comments on Twitter would make one assume that most people have a good sense of how to have difficult conversations in person, right? Wrong. It’s almost as if this amazing invention that keeps us all informed and connected has really made it more difficult for us to communicate in person.

So…

who cares?

You should care because, just like myself as a teenager, there are so many people in this world who are basing their political “opinions” on regurgitations from social media and gut feelings based on those negative and divisive comments.

You should care because social media has made it very hard to see the truth and so many people in this world don’t even care enough about truth to research what they post.

You should care because the next generation will live in a world where social media has always existed and their vocabulary, communication skills, and respect for others will be affected by social media.

what can we do to fix it?

  1. Talk with your children about communication and discourse.
  2. Teach your children to have difficult conversations in person.
  3. Limit your children’s access to social media until their brains are developed and mature enough to handle it.
  4. Remain civil in your social media postings. Remember that you are speaking to another person.
  5. If you don’t know something, say so.
  6. Research your side and defend it.
  7. Be open to civil discourse.
  8. Respect your opponent.

I really want to remain hopeful that this time in our lives will ease and people will begin speaking to each other with a modicum of decency and respect again, but it’s hard to do when our public officials and leaders bully others online. So, here’s my plea to anyone who might read this: remain civil, respectful, and don’t belittle others when communicating online.

 

 

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