It’s been an interesting and “naval staring” kind of week. Once again, I’m writing about politics (sort of) and social issues (vaguely), not my strong suite. So, I’m a little bit all over the map today. I’ll try to tie everything together. If I don’t, feel free to let me know.
While my leanings on social issues are obvious to anyone who follows me on Facebook, Twitter, etc., I try to keep my political affiliation private (until now). In point of fact, I’m actually Independent. In the past, my votes have gone along issue lines, supporting whichever candidate will uphold the issues about which I care the most. Yes, I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans. I’ve always tried to vote for the most qualified candidate. That has gotten harder and harder to do. Most recently and it seems, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be voting for the least idiotic candidate—maybe we can start a new party?
All of the above being said, I’ve come across a variety of interesting articles recently, which have made me think. The first is this article in The NationalJournal, which talks about liberals and social media and a Pew Research study. http://techdailydose.nationaljournal.com/2012/03/study-liberals-more-likely-to.php. I have to say that this study has made me a little uncomfortable, because I’ve always thought of myself as pretty tolerant of people. I have many friends on Facebook, etc. who don’t share my views. Some of those people surprise me, others don’t. I tend to read their opinions, ignore what I don’t like, accept what I do, and move on. Occasionally, if I am confident that a discussion won’t become offensive, I’ll comment on something and enjoy the back and forth argument. I find it enlightening, usually. However, I am guilty of unfriending people on Facebook for differing views, but only when I find those views so offensive that I can’t stand to look at them. I don’t find religious intolerance acceptable, and the fact that I might be defined as liberal by some (although not by me) does not make me more likely to unfriend someone just because I disagree with them.
The next article I read was this awesome blog by someone I follow on Twitter. http://imreallygoingthere.blogspot.com/2012/03/right-to-teach-my-children-what-i-want.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed. I can’t begin to describe how amazing this entry is, so go ahead and read it. I’ll wait. Seriously. Done? Okay, I agree with everything she says. Everything. Morals are my responsibility; education is my school’s. Nothing beats education.
But then there was another article, also a blog from someone I follow on Twitter (actually, retweeted by someone I follow). I’m not putting the link here, but her point was that when people use social media to complain about someone, and then others pile on and add their two cents, we’re in effect, bullying that original person about whom we’re complaining. The writer also claims that since social media bloggers represent the political left, write about the political right and have followers who comment, we’re similar to the bullies. I see her point, to an extent. But does the fact that I blog, and follow blogs, that try to make a point and obviously try to convince others to agree with me, make me a bully? I don’t think so. Just because I add my two cents to the piggy bank does not mean I’m entitled to the entire savings account. Those of us with opinions are entitled to air them. Those who agree and who disagree are also entitled to say so. Jumping on the bandwagon does not make us bullies. Being intolerant of others’ opinions makes us bullies. And anyone who states their opinions publically has to be able to take the disagreements from others in stride. Being disagreed with is healthy and keeps us honest. Personal attacks are not, and that is bullying.
And then there was this, the Goldman Sachs resignation letter. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/opinion/why-i-am-leaving-goldman-sachs.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all. While I admire his feelings of integrity, I think he needs to show a little more dignity, a little more grace, and keep his opinions to himself. Public humiliation is never okay.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: I’m a pretty tolerant person, to an extent. I don’t support personal attacks, ever, by anyone. Public humiliation is never okay. Intolerance, whether racial, religious, political, is also never okay and should never be displayed in social media of any kind. But rational expressions of opinions are key to keeping social media useful and to keeping everyone honest. Unfriending, while not ideal, is sometimes necessary. Bullying isn’t. And education is always the answer, every time.