The level of political anger on social media seems to get worse every election year: more intense, more rabid, more hateful.
Are we better than this?
Some days I’m not so sure.
Just the other day on Facebook, I saw someone in my friends list complain about a portion of the Democratic Party’s platform and he ended his Facebook rant by saying he has the “utmost contempt” for the platform and anyone who supports it.
And, lest you think I’m picking sides, allow me to point out that the same day, another Facebook friend suggested that if you’re voting for Trump, you should immediately unfriend him, as he has “lost all respect for you as a human being.”
People in my friends list are on all sides of the political spectrum.
There are people who are more conservative than I’ll ever be. There are people who are more liberal than I’ll ever be.
There are a handful of Libertarians and probably a Socialist or two, for all I know. (Not everyone, in case you haven’t noticed, choose to talk about their politics all the time.)
I’m middle of the road.
I’m conservative on some things, a fact that annoys my liberal friends.
I’m liberal on other things, a fact that annoys my conservative friends.
I apparently annoy those of the Libertarian ilk no matter what I think, so I try to give them a wider berth in an election year. It’s just not worth it.
We seem to have lost the ability to actually have conversations.
The beauty of social media is that everyone has the chance to have their opinions heard.
The problem with social media is that people are more interested in being heard than listening.
Now it’s about shouting matches, exchanges of the bitterest vitriol we can muster. There’s a constant flinging of talking points that never hit their mark because each person involved is too busy typing up the next one to actually read the one they just received.
They’re certainly too busy, even if they manage to read one, to actually give it any true consideration.
They want it their way. Their way or no way. (That seems to have become the unofficial slogan of both political parties.)
Maybe it’s always been this way in this country. I’d like to believe there might be a day when we can all come together as Americans and set party aside for a while.
But as I recall, the last time that happened (and it happened for too short a time), it took the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, to facilitate that.
That’s much too high a price to pay for unity in my book.
I don’t think the same way you do about everything.
I was brought up to believe that’s one of the things that makes this country great.
I was taught from an early age that we should listen to people, listen to other points of view, and be aware of the fact that no one person, no one group, and no one political party has all of the answers. If one side had all of the answers, there’d never have been a need for the other side, would there?
As such, I don’t have the “utmost contempt” for people who think differently than I do. I don’t even carry the “utmost contempt” for people who hold me in the utmost contempt.
I still respect people who think differently than I do. I even respect people who demonstrate that they have little to no respect for me.
I call that, among other things, being a Christian.
I do wonder why those people haven’t unfriended me, granted, but I don’t return their contempt.
Instead, I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt, to look beyond the political anger, to try to remember there’s a person behind the all that inexplicable, unreasonable hostility.
If your political persuasion encourages contempt of your opponents rather than conversation, there might be something wrong with your political persuasion, not your opponent’s.
Maybe you need to consider taking a break from Facebook…maybe until Thanksgiving or so.