Marti's Theory

Social Media and Our Loss of Politeness

Posted on: December 21, 2013

My opinions tend to be on the liberal side, particularly regarding social equality.  I think the fuss we kick up regarding race, religion, sexual orientation are just ridiculous.  Good grief, I can’t believe we are still defending barriers that exist only because we created them.  But THAT’S JUST ME.

Nevertheless, I know there are people that I like – and even love – who don’t necessarily share my perspective on these issues.  Now if I am in a ‘real life, in person’ situation where something is said or done that is grossly counter to those beliefs, I will speak up.  Calmly and (hopefully) with respect, and I have no qualms about doing so.

But I don’t look for those moments.  If I encounter someone who I know has very different beliefs in certain areas, here’s what I know:  A) We both know we each think the other is nuts, and B) we both know we will not change the other’s mind.  So we establish a bit of a social comfort zone.  I don’t think it’s phony or cowardly; it is simply a mutual willingness to tread carefully on areas of disagreement so we may focus on the things we have in common.  It’s a way to create a little moment of positive connection in this crazy world. No, I don’t want to know how you think my president is the worst thing that’s happened to us and no, you don’t want to know that I’d – as an ordained member of Christ Consciousness – would love to perform the marriage ceremony for my friend to his future husband.  We usually avoid those areas.  What would stepping into it accomplish?

However, I’ll be honest  – I would not speak as candidly to that person as I would to a friend who I know shares my beliefs.  And again, I’m hoping it’s not an indication of being a coward.  I honestly don’t think so.  I interact with many people in different environments in my life and I tend to lead with whatever the person(s) and I have in common.  So – for better or for worse – I’m slightly different in the various aspects of my life.  I’m not afraid of being disliked, so I’d like to think the root is more along the lines of courtesy and consideration.

But social media has changed all that.  I’m thinking of a recent Facebook melee, but that’s only one instance of a larger development.  Suddenly, my and everyone else’s comments are made in a room full of everyone we’ve ever known in our lives.   On one hand, it’s interesting because we’re learning things about each other that we might not have otherwise known.  But on the other hand, in many cases we were probably happier NOT knowing!

Add this to the fact that we are already incredibly polarized, that we seem to be divided into THIS camp or THAT camp with nowhere in between to be, and, well….

It’s mind boggling.  Everyone is so angry.  I tell ya … if my spiritual beliefs were different (I believe this life is only an illusion anyway 😉 ), I’d be pretty freaked out about it all.  As it is, I am still usually able to keep a sense of humor and an element of detachment. Like now, in fact.

So where do we go now?  What’s next?

This post is simply from my perspective.  Now I want to hear about yours.

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3 Responses to "Social Media and Our Loss of Politeness"

Thank you, Marti! Politeness is next to godliness, in my humble opinion.

Differences call for expansion—can I open my heart in the face of that with which I may disagree? Differences call us to hone our abilities to focus on content rather than form—particularly the prime content—that we are all Children of the same God. Collectively we are learning this, unlearning the idea that differences are cause for rejection or conversion. We are learning that it is not our responsibility to “prove” we are right by making others wrong. We are also learning that mistakes call for correction, not punishment.

Our progress (or lack thereof) is easily seen on Facebook pages, where we can swagger behind the protection of our computer screens and punishment is verbal and social. I, too, am uninterested in the melee because it serves no useful purpose. That’s why my personal page is sparse and not too controversial. I have no illusions about changing my Facebook friends’ minds and am not interested in using fb to play red-hot volleyball with our opinions.

Your solution is perfect, Marti. Let’s keep on laughing! ❤ ❤ ❤

Your “social comfort zone” leans more towards heroic than cowardly. In my humble opinion, the challenge is to not trip over our ego. Thanks for another thought provoking post.

Thanks. And now I will go back to being me. 😀

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