We once agreed to disagree…
Back when I began working social media for my business (about eight years ago), people were a lot calmer and more balanced in their political viewpoints…except for one friend of ours. My husband and I would have intense discussions about the President of the U.S. at the time, the presidential race’s candidates and other topics we never saw eye-to-eye on such as creation vs. evolution. At the end of the evening, however, we always parted friends and agreed to disagree. That is just how my husband and I were brought up, respecting the opinions of others.
But our friend was young and fiery and would shake her head that we believed what we did, and by some miracle it never interfered in our friendship. To this day we don’t agree and even though she moved to the United Kingdom, she still keeps up on the politics of her parent’s native land – and is still fervent that she is right. Even when Obama got in (who she heartily supported) and after a few years expressed her disappointment that he hadn’t solved the world’s problems, she never learned to temper her righteous fervor with facts and common sense.
Facebook & Twitter taking lessons from Kilauea?
Today, in 2018, do the landscapes of Facebook and Twitter resemble the turbulent recent eruption history of Kilauea? They should. The fiery home of the volcano goddess Pele has always been prone to long periods of devastating activity, yet everyone acts as if this latest, long-term eruption of wide-spread destruction is something new. If they looked up the volcano’s geological history, they would know better.
Politics, like volcanoes, have their quiet times and eruptive times that last months, sometimes years – especially when someone is in office we don’t like. Remember your parents complaining about Regan in office? Nixon? Or when you’re as old as I am, it might have been grandparents bitching about J. Edgar Hoover. This is nothing new, but social media takes it to a whole new level.
Hating the next door neighbor…across the world
Back in our parent’s time if we didn’t agree with the next door neighbor, we might have had an argument or intense discussion with them, walked back into the house and ignored them until the next election – or their impeachment (ala Richard M. Nixon). Now, those people you friended on Facebook and Twitter who you thought you knew – including your friends – have taken on the viciousness anonymity and not being face-to-face with someone engenders. Shocked that the friend you thought you knew knows words like that? They would never say that to someone’s face, yet being behind a computer brings out the worst in some people, especially with hot topics like politics and religion.
Ignoring the volcano or facing it down?
It is tough for the small business entrepreneur to pursue their business and stay out of the hot-topics like sex, religion, politics and sports. When I was in Quattro University, we were told time and again to steer clear of them at all costs for fear of alienating our audiences. Forced to discuss “safe” topics like pets, favorite getaway spots, science and medicine are okay, but people tend to bond over topics both sides feel passionate about, so what do we do?
I have thought a lot about this during this current administration. Living in a state where the majority of people not only oppose who I voted for – and sometimes vehemently – I kept my opinions to myself even more than usual. Even outside of business I found myself around formerly sane friends who had gone off the deep end and could not stop spewing hate – even if they knew we once upon a time had agreed to disagree. It was hard enough, especially in my religious belief circles, to locate fellow worshipers to comfortably interact with, and when I did and they too, “went off the deep end” I knew I had to make a choice. I was frustrated and angry that I was the one who had to “keep my mouth shut” while they felt free to spew their hate and intolerance towards a man they disagreed with on one hand and then went into worship declaring they “loved all creatures great and small”.
The hypocrisy disgusted me and I had to leave.
So how do you keep your sanity and still surf the web?
People’s opinions and their extremist viewpoint aren’t going away – ever, but we still have to put up with it while we conduct both business and pleasure on the world wide web.
Or do we?
I learned from watching my husband that one can surround oneself with those of a similar point of view who are good friends and influential networkers without sacrificing our rights to our opinions and our right to view them in a safe environment. A couple of months ago I purged my personal Facebook profile of hate-spewing crazies – both on the right and the left, though truth-be-told, they were ALL leftists (I kid you not!). Reconfiguring my feed’s priorities in who I received notifications and posts from lowered my blood pressure and made viewing Facebook enjoyable again. Now I am experimenting with posting a slightly political post or two to see if those who remain will, if not agree, at least be of the same calm, even temperament as I am and not act batshit crazy. Today I start the process with a much more volatile arena – Twitter and have high hopes that with careful pruning of my connections and adding the right ones, I can go back to tweeting happily instead of as if walking on eggshells.