“Just unfriend me now.”
“I can’t believe that…”
Seen or heard these comments recently? Yeah, me too. Seems to be all over my social media feeds, email inbox, and casual conversations. The surprise has worn off when it comes to seeing such strong reactions from people I know pretty well. So it got me to thinking. Scary thought, I know…
Why is it so easy to be against something instead of for something? Why are we so scared of people that think differently from us? Not even that they might look different than us, but that they actually have a different perspective on the world. I’ll get back to that question…
I have been thinking of these questions quite a bit over the last few months as the political season picks up speed and the wake of such a season impacts so many of the conversations on social media and among friends. I am tracking the reactions. I’m sure you are as well.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for speaking our passions and showing up authentically, but when did it become acceptable to shut down others because they have a different opinion? In my opinion (see what I did there?), I think it started when we lost our ability to argue without fear of rejection. A knockdown, drag out argument almost never happens these days without a personal attack that has nothing to do with the reason for the argument. It is our “get out of jail” card to shut down the conversation because you are a democrat, you are a man, you don’t work in higher education, you don’t have a Ph.D., you are…different.
It reminds me of when I was little (way back when) you would resort to “your mom” when you were losing the war of insults. My son calls those “flaming” someone, these days. Apparently, we continue to perpetuate the need to denigrate when we fail to stay in the hard conversation or feel that we may be shown to be wrong, acting on failed logic, or behaving emotionally.
The need to “drop the mic” instead of “pass the mic” has become a consistent game. Who can say just the right sentence, post the right meme, find the right article to support your viewpoint, or dig up the dirt on your opponent. We look to end conversation before it even begins. Ugh.
Back to my earlier question…maybe it is easier to be against ideas or people in general because it does not require one to come up with a solution. Solution based thinking is sadly so rare. Elections are won on how high we can get the “negatives” on the other candidate, not on what we plan to do to solve persistent issues. That happens because we, as voters, allow it to happen. We vote based on who we can tolerate the most or against the person we “can’t afford to have in office.” Not because we are for something extraordinary.
Let’s start to speak and stand for what we support because we believe it will make things better. Let’s change the conversation to be one of possibility instead of one of impossibility.
And please, listen to an opposing view from time to time. You might find out something new or even that you were wrong.
Nah, that’s asking too much. What am I thinking?
Paul is the President of LeaderShape and pinchs himself everyday for that opportunity. He is a father, son, soon-to-be-husband, athlete, avid reader, eternal optimist, and sucker for the underdog.