Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.
I must admit: I am weary. But it’s not the chances and changes of this life that get me there. It’s scrolling through the comments on articles online–and yes, scrolling through my Facebook or Twitter feeds and seeing the seething, searing, vitriolic rhetoric that has taken over with a vengence.
No matter what the issue or topic, we seem to be in a race to see who can post the “wittiest” thoughts — who can generate a cheap laugh or the most “likes” from “friends.”
But we’re not nearly as witty, or as funny, as we think we are.
We are just plain mean.
We have somehow spiraled into a perpetual “us vs. them” mentality, where “we” are right, righteous and justified, and “they” are ignorant, damned, undeserving and unworthy…and there is almost no arena that is left untouched.
This vitriolic spitting and tearing down is in our politics, in our religions, on our social networks, and in our news. It takes the form of Republicans vs. Democrats, Conservatives vs. Liberals, Believers vs. Atheists, Christians vs. Christians, Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice, and so much more.
I wish I could say that the “bigger” the issue, the more vitriolic the responses (because at least that would make some sense), but that’s not the case. I’ve seen just as heated debates on Apple vs. Microsoft, iPhone vs. Android, Fox vs. CNN and (insert any major sports rivalry here). In these cases, in particular, I just bury my face in my palm and wonder why it all matters so much. Why does one person’s enjoyment of or belief in even the smallest things (especially those that have literally no bearing on another person’s life) move others to spew hatred? And what do we hope to accomplish with that kind of talk anyway?
We’re certainly not convincing anyone of anything they don’t already agree with. Instead of indulging in the art of persuasion, we’ve devolved into the art of snark.
And while it used to be that the anonymity of the internet enabled and encouraged such behavior, I haven’t seen the pace slow down at all when people’s identities are attached to what they post. I’m just as likely to run across vitriolic rhetoric in my Facebook newsfeed with someone’s smiling mug shot next to their post as I am on any news blog where “anonymous” is an option for commenters.
But don’t get me wrong – I LOVE social media and the interactivity around our news stories. I love it for the benefits I’ve already seen and for the potential that it holds.
I love that I get to share in the lives of friends through what they share on their walls. I love the potential for social media to bring disparate people together to share ideas. And, yes, I love the potential for it to be a platform for advocacy of issues that touch each of our lives. And personally, I love the potential to be challenged by new ideas and perspectives that can help me grow in my own knowledge and understanding.
But what I don’t love is how we are going about it. Is it too much to ask for a little more civility and a lot less condemnation?
If we’re not going to all love each other like we should, can we at least not hate each other so much?