Social media experiment…

Lesson learned

I should know better. I do know better, but decided to try anyway.

Generally, I am not a facebook™ poster. I enjoy staying in touch with family and friends through social media and don’t ‘friend’ all kinds of people. My list of facebook™ friends is pretty small by today’s standards.  Rarely do I express my opinions on social media. But I do not isolate myself to just friends who share my political persuasion. I have made a concientious effort to include friends of different backgrounds and beliefs, thinking that I might learn something from them to expand my own views. 

Unfortunately, most posts of value are drowned out by others trying to shout them down. 

So it was with trepidation that I recently decided to weigh in on facebook™ on recent events that have sparked much discussion in all media. I was curious to see what the response would be to what I thought would be well thought out and reasoned posts I would make. I am not a social media neophite, and had a pretty good idea what would happen, but I decided I needed to find out for myself. Boy, did I find out.

In an effort to be a peacemaker online, I tried to acknowledge value in posts from different sides of the issue while proposing what I thought were acceptable positive ideas as potential solutions in a series of posts. I started getting some decent dialogue, but it didn’t take long for the shouters to jump in.  And I was hollered at by people at both ends of the political spectrum.

The urge to yell back was strong. I get how this happens. When people are not sitting across the table from you, or on the other end of a phone or video call it is easy to find a sledge hammer meme, quote, or comment to beat them over the head. The desire to win can quickly overwhelm respect and civility. The ability and need to immediately respond is powerful. I found myself pounding the keys before I even really thought about how to respond. Luckily my brain kicked in before I posted and contributed to the devolving diatribes.

Some people are smart enough and quick enough to compose rational, even-tempered posts on the fly, but I am not one of them. Given a little time, I’m pretty sure I can draft a decent proposal, or defense of my position. But by the time I am ready to reply, a new bomb has likely been thrown into the discussion thread leading in an entirely different direction. Oh well, too late again. Who has time to continually check facebook™ anyway? It can be such a time waster!

Perhaps that is one of the problems with political discussion online. The fast pace of social media interactions does not allow for more deliberate discussion and for those participating to realize they actually agree on the majority of what they are discussing. It is usually a small part of the issue that gets all the attention and passion, leaving areas of agreement out entirely. Much can be overcome with passion, but passion without reason leads to destruction and disaster.

Experiment completed, with the expected result. I will go back to leaving social media to what it does best…social connections. Staying in touch with the lives of family and friends is great, I’ll leave the rest alone.