Humans by nature like to assess other human beings. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but we make judgments about other people from a young age based on outer appearance, or the clothing they wear, the cars they drive, or the things they say. Young children are taught to identify a police officer by their uniform, or doctors and nurses by labcoats and stethoscopes.
As we become older, we sometimes make snap judgments. A clean-cut man in a suit who drives a fancy car is perceived as wealthy and educated, whereas a person in worn clothing, workboots, driving a pickup truck is perceived as less educated and less wealthy. Some people assume a person with tatoos and piercings is rough around the edges. Other people hurl their judgments at people who wear a lot of makeup and nice clothing, assuming those people are shallow and materialist.
I find myself judging people far more often than I should. Lately, it’s been creeping up on me and really taking hold. I judge people based on their politics and make assumptions about their morality. I’ve been seeing this happening more and more often lately – people accusing each other of lacking morals based on how they vote or how they feel about one particular topic. While I certainly understand how it’s possible to make this leap (I’ve done the same), I think we all need to take a step back and remember that it is impossible to know what’s in someone’s heart based on one Facebook post, or one angry comment, or how they voted in one election – or even based on how they plan to vote in this election.
My husband and I were talking about this today. We asked each other, “How do we have a real non-confrontational conversation with someone about issues of race or politics or religion when that person sees things in a completely different way? How do we end divisiveness and have a peaceful conversation?”
Well, one thing is for sure: You don’t get someone to listen to you by judging them and deeming their views immoral. You don’t change hearts and minds by insulting the other person’s intelligence, religion, or way of life. Conversation is a two-way street. Both parties have to listen. Questions have to be asked and answered. And listened to. Really, really listened to.
Look, I’m not going to lie. I’ve spent the past few months being a Facebook Fighter. I’ve argued with friends and strangers alike. I’ve blocked and unfriended and unfollowed. I’ve posted snarky memes in the hopes of angering some of my “less enlightened” Facebook friends who have posted their own snarky memes. I’ve called people out for being racist, questioned their intelligence, corrected their grammar, and accused them of having poor understanding of their religion. And to what end? All it did was waste my time and make me angry. No hearts and minds were changed. No real conversation happened. No exchange of information occurred that would have enlighted either one of us.
Everyone needs to do what’s right for them when it comes to social media. For some, that means blocking out anything negative – including toxic people. For others, that means fighting for their cause. But, one of these days, the election is going to be over and we’re either going to be dealing with four years of Biden or four more years of Trump. Half the country will be gloating and the other half will be desperately unhappy. Either way, we will still be dealing with a severely divided country, and at some point we’re going to have to find a way to get along.
The next time I’m tempted to argue with a stranger, I’m going to try to summon some self-control and move along because it just isn’t worth arguing with someone I don’t know. The next time I’m tempted to argue with a friend or family member over politics, I’m going to try to understand them instead of judging them. I’m going to ask questions and try to get to the heart of what makes them believe the way they do. Are they getting their information from a different source than I am? Are they afraid? Are they missing some information, or am I? I’d like to make time for an exchange of ideas instead of exchanging combative comments.
What about you? How do you handle social media during this stressful and divisive election cycle? How do you handle argumentative friends and family members on Facebook?
8 thoughts on “Everybody was Facebook Fighting”
I handle it by avoiding it. I’ve been done with the toxic atmosphere of FB for some time and even when I do creep onto twitter, or Fb, etc, the minute is run into covid or rabid politics, I’m gone because as you’ve noted, 99% of the time, a peaceful conversation is impossible. The vitriol and hatred reminds me of the atheist/christian debates of the mid 2000s. They were so prevalent they were everywhere, even on youtube videos that had nothing to do with religion in any way. When Rami visited, we touched on politics very gently (he works for the government so he’s not allowed to be very vocal about things) and I found his thoughts refreshing and very classy. He said that he would never say or think anything bad about someone for voting one way or another because everyone votes and thinks from their own personal experiences, and that everyone’s experience, and opinions, were unique, and that whether they voted for the same candidate as him, or a different one, they were exercising their rights, which is the way the country is set up to be. I think he should print that on cards and sell it, lol!
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I like Rami’s philosophy. It’s true. As patriotic Americans, it’s our job to vote. That’s it. We don’t have to justify our vote to anyone, especially on Facebook.
I missed the Christian-atheist debates. I wasn’t on social media then, so I was late to the party, I guess. I don’t think I realized how argumentative people could be until the last presidential election.
There have been times I’ve unfollowed people who posted a lot of political stuff, just so I wouldn’t have to look at their posts (on both sides of the aisle), but now it’s nearly impossible. It’s so rampant, I can hardly find a kitten picture everywhere. Now, days go by when I completely avoid Facebook.
I’m always amazed by how Facebook fights can escalate from the most trivial beginnings. Yesterday I came across a Facebook fracas on a post about a missing dog – the dog had been found, loads of people had been out looking, and one or two people were bitching because they hadn’t been thanked personally for joining the search. There followed a whole string of vitriolic comments going back and forth – they all seemed to have lost sight of the fact the dog had been found and reunited with her owner.
Love the video – it says it all! 😀
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Wow! I think that takes the cake. Arguing over a missing dog post hits a new low.
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I know. I couldn’t believe it.
I don’t argue with people on any form of social media. I share my thoughts and people either like it or they don’t, but I always let people know upfront I will not tolerate hate speech on my stuff. I am quick to delete, block, unfollow, etc… there is no discussion. I have and never will tell someone not to think or feel what they think or feel, but I also won’t let them tell me what to think or feel. I handle all social media the same: never turn on notifications, keep personal and business separate, and be honest upfront… During the last election, I sent out a message to family members not to tag me or PM me political content. I straight-up unfollowed anyone who did after that. A cousin on my husband’s side sent me a friend request and a message six months after the election telling me they missed seeing pictures of my dog. I explained the situation and only accepted their request when they agreed not to send me political stuff again, and they haven’t to this day. Some relatives on my side, still have no idea where I am. I see them asking my mom and dad about me all the time. 😉 hehe.
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I’m pretty upfront about how I feel regarding certain issues, but I don’t see them as political. Black Lives Matter, pro-LGBTQ – these stances are right in my bio on Twitter and on my websites. Some see these as political, but I see them as moral issues. When people push my buttons on these moral issues, and others, that’s usually when I snap. But is it worth it? Am I going to change anybody’s mind, especially some random stranger, by telling him to burn in hell? Or is it better for me, emotionally and mentally, to scroll on by?
I wish I had your self control. My mood tends to dictate my approach to social media. I really do try not to comment on what other people post, but sometimes people catch me on a bad day…
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I get that. It’s not always easy.