I used to love social media. Mindlessly scrolling through Facebook — chuckling at the occasional meme or dipping my toe into a debate on a hot topic — used to have some entertainment value.
These days, it seems to be a chore. It's not fun anymore.
This has nothing to do with who I supported for President or who any of my friends supported for President. It's the remarkably low level of discourse that has become prevalent in recent years, which has only been amplified by the current state of political affairs.
Nobody, it seems, on either side of the political aisle seems capable of holding a civil, nuanced discussion on any matter. Just read through the comments on any given post, and soon it devolves into, "Well, what about your person! They're the worst!" Often it happens under a completely inoccuous post.
Tensions seem to be running so high right now that the slightest thing might set someone off. A healthy level of debate is good for us all, but that's not what's happening out there right now.
This problem isn't even specific to political debates. Posts about sports or local tragedies also brings it out. There's a blatant insensitivity running rampant among many of our peers.
The "I have a right to my opinion" crowd is a major part of the issue. You know the type, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary on a topic in which they offer no such evidence, eventually the "discussion" ends with, "Well, that's my opinion!"
Yes, of course, everyone has right to their opinion. But, as part of a society — in which it would be nice if people had at least a base level of civility — it's nice if there's at least a modest chance that you might be moved off of your opinion or that I may be moved off mine. Otherwise, what's the point of all this?
I'll offer a hypothetical example. Let's say, you find yourself in a debate with someone over the color of the sky. You're certain that the color of the sky is red. Your friend thinks it's blue. To support his point, your friend shows you a picture of a blue sky.
Moving off your opinion that the sky is red doesn't make you a lesser person. It actually makes you a person who recognizes that you might not have the right answers to everything, but you're willing to be swayed.
But, if in the face of obvious evidence to the contrary you remain firm in your stance that the sky is red, well, to me, that says something about you.
There's a perception that changing your mind makes you weak. It doesn't. We grow older, we gain knowledge, sometimes that knowledge leads to thoughts and opinions we didn't previously think we could have.
Look, life is hard. We all need each other. Rather than spending time drawing lines between us, we should be working toward finding common ground, and sometimes that might mean moving off your stance on a subject.
If we can't do that, not only do we fail to progress but, in a way, we regress.
Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-219-214-4170.