Can we disagree? Is it still possible for us to have intelligent and informed conversations with people who hold different opinions than our own? By observing social media it sure doesn’t look like it.
From time to time I post my political and social opinions on Facebook or Twitter. I try not to be offensive to those who hold an opposing view point. No one’s shouted at me in ALL CAPS yet so I must not have pushed it too far.
How many times have you been unfriended? How many people have you yourself unfriended? Why? Is it because they have ideas that you find abhorrent? I mean if it’s an old girlfriend from high school who keeps stalking you, that gets a free pass of course. But why can’t we disagree any more? All this technology has returned us all to the kindergarten sandbox where we refuse to share the shovel with Tommy who has the bucket.
Or maybe we just never grew up in the first place.
Personally I enjoy a good argument. One that’s informed and educated. Not one that comes from the viewpoint of television talk shows or the internets. If you come at me with a challenge supported by a tweet or a sound byte, you’ll need to talk to the hand. If there is actual information coming from a place of knowledge and factual data, I am more than happy to be proven wrong.
Our culture needs to move away from the concept of “I feel this way so it should be so” and move closer to “I have studied all the relevant information and it has led me to understand things in this way.” I won’t hold my breath though. Making decisions based on a feeling or an emotional response will usually trump the hard work it takes to research and learn something. You mean I have to read more than 120 characters? I don’t have time for that. A new episode of the View starts after this infomercial about my Brazilian non-surgical nose job/tearless onion slicer.
Let’s face it. We live in the microwave generation. We want everything right now. We don’t care if it’s real. The shinier and sexier it is, the more we’re interested. The truth isn’t sexy. The truth isn’t shiny. The truth is really fucking difficult to deal with. It makes us stare down our reflection in the mirror without averting eye contact. It’s so much easier to say, “You disagree with me? You’re wrong and I hate you!” than it is to open our minds, listen to an opposing view and realize that there may be some validity to something different.
I’m not trying to say we should always agree with opinions that offend our sensibilities. But we as a culture have forgotten how to have rational discourse. We see it in Washington every single day. The left side and right sides of the aisle won’t cooperate on anything at all. Both are more interested in being “right” than looking at the state of the world and trying to do something about it. Even if that means they have to (here comes the dreaded word) compromise.
I have family members with different politics than me. I still love them. I try to talk about it and understand where they’re coming from. Doesn’t mean they don’t completely piss me off sometimes and vice versa. I don’t love them any less. If they fell on the same side of the aisle with me, I wouldn’t love them any more than I already do either. It simply means our conversations would probably be a bit quieter.
In our country we’ve been blessed with the First Amendment to the Constitution. We are supposed to be able to speak our minds freely. We are supposed to be able to dissent freely too. If I have an opinion, you have to option to disagree with it and even tell me so. Though I may be upset that you don’t think the same way, we should be able to talk about it without stomping our feet and rolling around in the mud until the teacher puts us both in separate corners.
Agree to disagree?