There have many studies commissioned over the years demonstrating the precept that the more liberal among us approach politics from an emotional basis, while conservatives tend to view politics as an exercise in logic.
Thus we have liberal claims that conservatives have no heart, and conservative claims that liberals have no brains…..lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Social media postings tend to bear out the emotion/logic comparisons. I have facebook™ friends of all political and cultural persuasions. Sometimes the temptation is strong to block those who disagree with me politically. But if I view myself as enlightened I need to be open to various points of view, right?! The only people I tend to block are those who constantly post pictures of their meals and/or pets. Enough is enough.
My more liberal friends often post very fiery memes, or tear jerker images and stories to bolster their political leanings. The conservatives in my feed lean toward somewhat boring missives outlining their position in factual and logical terms. The liberals must have a ready supply of memes on hand because they reply vehemently and instantly. These libs must fall asleep while waiting for their conservative foes to respond because those cons are often slow to respond. In my mind I see them struggling to compose the perfect response that will win the day. While both sides are passionate in their beliefs, the libs are more creative and quick with their posts, although they are generally not very persuasive and sometimes make no sense.
The conservative posters try to persuade with their well thought out words for a while, but when they get hammered by the other side, they soon end with some over the top meme, nasty retort, or namecalling.
It doesn’t take long to get to a devolution of the social media discussion to nonsense and nastiness, with no kind of resolution, or solution to our issues.
To be fair, many on social media steer away from political discussions. But that is hard to do these days. It takes some discipline to refrain from responding when your strongly held beliefs are under attack. It is especially hard when the thread is pummeling a member of your own tribe. But next to staying off of social media, I think those who use this approach are probably the happiest people among us.
In my career I have attended many sales training seminars and read many articles and books on the art of persuasion. I even took a college course by that name a long time ago. As I recall, the effective art of persuasion uses more subtle means to sell your ideas or products. Effective persuasion also takes persistence over time using those more subtle messages to accomplish your goals.
There certainly isn’t anything subtle about our political discourse leading up to this November’s election. That is especially true on social media where the posts often seem more like a game of whack a mole than any kind of discourse.
In sales training you are taught to listen, paraphrase objections, and overcome them with the benefits you have to offer. At no point have I ever been trained to simply pound the potential client into submission. All that does is make sure they will never take an appointment with you again.
Another art, the art of conversation, suffers too, when we are all pecking away on our devices instead of listening to each other face to face. The name facebook™ is a misnomer. When we are in the same room and looking each other in the eye we are much more likely to adhere to the rules of good deportment and courtesy. This allows for tuning in to the discussion and often leads to finding some level of agreement.
But those rules do not apply online. It seems the objective is to have the biggest hammer to beat.