"I know everything and you don't!"
"Everyone who agrees with me is a genius, and anyone who disagrees with me is an idiot! "
How would you feel if someone walked up to you and said either of these things to your face? Would you ever go up to someone and say that to theirs? I would hope not. Why then, do so many people seem to have no problem doing just that on Facebook?
Today something huge happened in the news that sparked five million and three Facebook arguments about a hot button political topic. I posted nothing. I never do any more. In fact, anything I have written on my blog in the past that could be deemed "Political" or "Controversial" I have probably gone back and deleted.
Why did I do that? Why don't I post my opinion out there so everyone knows exactly what I think, feel, and believe? I used to. When I first joined Facebook I made sure everyone knew all my opinions on everything.
Presidential election coming up? Post an article: "This is why Candidate #1 is Awesome, and Candidate #2 is the spawn of Satan!"
Hot button issue in the news? Post a status update: "Side I don't agree with is either stupid, or evil! Or stupid AND evil!"
After a few years of this, I realized that it never got me anywhere. All I ever got were affirmative comments from the choir I was preaching to, or comments from someone I had unknowingly offended telling me how incredibly wrong I was and proceeding to detail why I was wrong. I'd argue back, but that would only continue until one of us got sick of arguing and quit, because no one ever changed anyone's mind via Facebook.
Arguing on the internet is one of the most pointless and childish things that the evolution of social networking has brought about. It does nothing but flare tempers, raise blood pressure, and break friendships.
As I said, this post came about because of a huge news story that brought a huge controversial political topic back into public debate. In the middle of the sewage plant that was my Facebook wall today was a post from Blimey Cow with a link to their video on this very topic. Their comment was, "Just a Gentle Reminder Today."
Blimey Cow, as always, thank you for your rare insight.
I wish more people would wake up and realize that just because they believe one thing, doesn't mean that absolutely everyone else in the world needs to know about it. And just because they believe something doesn't mean that they are right and everyone who disagrees with them is wrong.
There have been lots of things over the years that I have come to learn I was wrong about, and I've been big enough to admit to myself that I don't know everything. But I never once came to that conclusion because of someone's rant on Facebook. Any time my beliefs about anything were changed, it was because I took the time to look at both sides of an issue, and kept an open mind.
An open mind, and a willingness to listen to opposing viewpoints are what changes opinions, not a 5 sentence rant on Facebook. Or a blog. Which begs the question, why did I even write this? :p