“I’d Agree With You But Then We’d Both Be Wrong.”

I’ve debated off and on over the past six months about disconnecting from most social media. There’s plenty of reasons out there for doing so, and you’ve heard them all and perhaps even considered doing so yourself.

Plenty of great reasons remain for staying connected; improved distant family communication, getting to know other people outside my normal sphere, information to learn and share, great laughs, instant news.

Lately the scale tips more toward the disconnect side.

What’s the tipping point?

image by Smurfy.

image by Smurfy.

Fierce, unchecked, unscreened, hate-filled anger.

I’ve been surprised by the anger expressed about certain issues. Oh sure, I expect to run into differing opinions as my online social circle expands. I’m not talking about simple differences. I’m referring to vehemence, vitriol, spite, meanness, wrath and fury.

Those sorts of emotions aren’t directed at some mass murderer, nor at people who traffic in slavery. Surprisingly, even terrorists and child killers aren’t catching this kind of heat.

Just your average Jane or Joe are catching heck for expressing an opinion. Or attempting to live their religion. Or for making a choice. Or for a simple mistake.

It doesn’t seem to matter which side of which issue anyone is on, the predominate response can only be described as furious. Both sides respond with a frenzy likened to sharks with blood in the water.

Crazed, illogical, uncaring.

People I thought I knew and shared basic common beliefs with suddenly appear as strangers to me.

I don’t comment. I simply read, my mouth hanging open in shock, disbelief and horror.

Who says such things about other human beings?

I feel such dismay.

MSH pointed out that I get that way when I’m behind the wheel of a car. Hmmm. Let’s say he’s correct about that, even if I don’t completely agree. I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment.

If the behavior I exhibit while I drive mimics the comments and rants I read on social media and elsewhere then:

  • I’d be throwing angry hand gestures out my open window. I definitely don’t do that.
  • I’d yell out loud through an open window at the person whose driving irritated me. I wouldn’t dream of doing that.
  • I’d pull up as close to their bumper as I could without actually touching the “Vote for” stickers. Do you think I’m crazy? No way would I do that.

What I do instead

What I do instead is talk out loud with the windows up and tightly closed. “Dude!! What are you thinking?” Or perhaps, “Had a little too much beer with your burger earlier I see.” And more frequently, “Get off the phone and drive, lady!” and more, “Hello! Texting and driving don’t mix.” And the infamous, “I know I’m desirable and all, but get off my butt.”

If other people ride along with me they definitely hear what I’m saying. It’s as automatic as signaling, or putting my foot on the break to slow down.

I’m a hypocrite

I’m not proud of it. I could do better. It isn’t nice. It’s not consistent with one of my core beliefs of being kind to others.

I like myself better when I treat others with respect. I’m happier when I think the best of others. “They’re doing the best they can in their circumstances which I know nothing about,” should always underscore my thoughts about the behavior I see around me.

Point taken. Resolved to do better.

But there’s still this thing out there I just don’t understand.

Verbal and literary pummeling everywhere I read. Image by Giulio del Torre Zwei raufende Buben 1927Public Domain Giulio del Torre (1856–1932)

Verbal and literary anger and pummeling everywhere I read. Image by Giulio del Torre.  Zwei raufende Buben.

I suppose what’s most upsetting about much of the anger I’m reading and hearing falls into that same category. Hypocritical. The hate and vitriol seem so out of line with these people I’m hearing it from. People I thought I shared values with. People I thought employed compassion and caring as their central tenants.

The rest of it is simply unsettling and scary. Why are so many so angry?

Do they see how out of proportion and vicious they sound? Do they care?

What happened to reasoned debate? What’s happened to compromise? What happened to agreeing to disagree without hate as part of the equation?

Maybe that never really existed. Maybe I imaged it was once that way.

Can we disagree without being disagreeable? 

Do you have any insight for me? Can you explain what’s going on? Should I move to the wilderness and erect thirty-foot high razor wire fencing with attack dogs to protect myself?

Should I pretend it all away and disconnect from social media and the internet?

Pretty tempting to adopt a hermit’s way of life.

 *~*

“In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.”  ~Buddha

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Categories: People, The World, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on ““I’d Agree With You But Then We’d Both Be Wrong.”

  1. Kent Mitchell

    No matter what – there will be people who for whatever reason (stupidity, selfishness, greed, pride, mental illness etc..) cannot be conversed with. There are however, many more reasonable, debatable and open-minded people who may be worth the time to communicate with. I like to challenge a few friends that have seemingly very different opinions -often in the end- after many back and forth messages, we end up finding an agreement, or at the very least an understanding. Congress should try it!

    Bottom line; social media is part of society for now and we can hide under a rock or use balance, common sense and self control to determine what we’ll read, say and react.

    Other tags for this could be communication, understanding, loving others, choices. 😀

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  2. Kent Mitchell

    BTW – this would make a great bumper sticker – “I know I’m desirable and all, but get off my butt.”

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  3. I’m not going the hermit route but I am drawing a tolerance line. Shen people cross that line, I either find a way to let them know or I drop them from my universe. Hey, we dropped Pluto 🙂

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    • Good point. Easy enough to avoid most of it. Pluto…hahahaha.
      Just weird when it comes out of nowhere from someone you thought was calm and reasonable.

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  4. There’s a lot I love about not being on Facebook … and not being in the middle of others’ debates is near the top of the list. The most I see on Pinterest is a few overly-scathing comments on crazy street style photos …

    As far as what’s going on, the ego gets a great big turbo-charge from “I’m right, and you’re wrong.” It’s scary but fascinating to watch people choose the turbo-charge over their own health and wellbeing. If everyone became aware of this small fact, it would change the world.

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    • If we could see ourselves through the lens of someone else’s eyes I think we’d all have a fierce and surprising reality check. Anger is definitely not healthy.

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      • Anger can be quite useful as a motivating force toward necessary change, but channeling it correctly is a real trick.

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  5. I think it comes down to the level of anonymity that social media allows. At least to some degree. In general, manners and respect are going the way of the dinosaurs, our society is becoming more crass. Thus, behind a screen and keyboard, one can get even nastier especially with someone that they don’t know IRL – just facebook friends.

    My two cents. I can see the want to withdraw, however, it’s one of the most powerful tools we have to do and be the opposite. Examples of light and goodness and disciples of Christ. It’s our choice whether or not we do that.

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    • I’ve found myself having to delete or backspace a comment on occasion, thinking I’m being all witty and smart, when really I’m just being mean and snarky. It’s a fine line. You’re right about the anonymity thing. We say stuff online we’d never dream of saying out loud to someone in person.

      One of the few things that keeps me blogging is the hope that I’m putting some joy and positive vibes out there into a climate of not so much good stuff. I suppose withdrawing is kind of a passive way out. If I can make a difference for good, then I should. Right?

      Like

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