I really miss having the internet at home. I always think of a million things I want to write about in the middle of the night, and by morning, they seem to just evaporate — just gone forever. Darn it.
Last night, I went speed dating again. That is a post for another day. What I want to write about is what happened after I got home.
Late in the evening, when I finally got home, I checked my phone, and my law-enforcement FB friend had been going nuts about my opinions on Facebook. I didn’t answer any of his rather offensive outbursts last night, but decided to just calm down a little before addressing his foray over the line. I’m glad I did. Today, it doesn’t make me angry. Instead, it is a perfect example of the importance of presentation when you offering up your opinions about sensitive subjects.
I believe wholeheartedly, we all are entitled to our opinions. Some of my very favorite humans on this planet disagree with me in very fundamental ways. My views are very easily understood because I write about them on a public blog. In the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve collected a very eclectic and diverse set of friends including no few atheists, some self-identified witches, gays, mistresses, and a ton of other people with lifestyle choices I probably would never have chosen for myself. That being said, why aren’t they offended by my very literal adherence to the bible? Why do they care enough to tell me they are sad for me when I cry, or happy for me when I laugh? Why am I not their enemy?
The answer is, because I don’t treat people who think differently from me with disrespect. They aren’t my enemies! I am not arrogant enough to believe that I have all the right answers and if someone comes up with a different one, I don’t decide they are immediately and instantly wrong and stupid. My opinions are not easily threatened by differing ones, and I find no reason not to listen to the logic and reasoning someone else has used to come up with a different answer.
I know why I believe what I do, so my opinions are not threatened easily by someone else knowing why they believe differently and being able to present their reasons to me. Some of my very fundamental beliefs have actually grown and changed because someone was able to show me with their logic and presentation skills, why I might be wrong, or short-sighted, or just not thinking big enough. I hope I’ve done the same for others. We should always be learning from one another.
I don’t mind that my FB friend believes differently than I do. What bothers me is the approach. Why bother to post your opinions about politics, religion, or anything else if you do it in such a manner, no one hears anything you are trying to say? I don’t understand what the point of that is. Any skirting with words that imply you attacking on a personal level will immediately cause all the words that you write afterwards to go unconsidered. If your tone is patronizing, argumentative, or arrogant, you send a different message no matter what truth may lie in the words you are writing. People will get defensive, walls go up, and you stop being considered anything other than an enemy.
Before you can communicate, there is a certain level of trust that has to be assumed, even in writing.
I would encourage anyone with strong opinions that cause polarizing to opposite sides of an issue to ask themselves, what is my motive for sharing my opinions? If it is because you like a healthy debate, good for you. A lot of us do. But bow out when it starts to degenerate to name-calling or arrogant tones. The minute you give in to snarkiness, you’ve lost the exchange. If you just like to upset people, then I’m sure you can find others who are looking for the same thing.
But if you really care about the world you live in, and genuinely are looking for the right solutions to some of the problems we’re dealing with today, remember how you say something is just as important as what you say. Be wise enough to know that we need each other’s ideas in order to create for ourselves a more realistic view of the world we are trying to mend, and treat everyone with the amount of respect you would hope they would treat you with. In other words, follow the golden rule, even when you’re posting things on Facebook.
‘Cause, dude, if you don’t start addressing your tone, you’re outta here. 🙂