For this Tuesday: A random rant. When I’m done, you can catch more random at Stacy’s.
It’s no secret that I love the internet. I can buy cheap things. I can pretend I’m going on vacation. I can get ideas of fun things to make. I can keep in contact with people I might not otherwise. The internet is why I’m able to do my work from home, so I can keep an eye on my own babies. It’s a treasure trove – the internet. I am in love with it.
But I hate the internet. The anonymity of the internet has falsely led us to believe that we can say whatever we want. Civility has been thrown right out the window. And I’ll tell you what. That makes me ANGRY. From completely anonymous bullies, to people spouting whatever political junk they want on Facebook, we have forgotten that there are people on the other side of the computer. We have forgotten that there’s another side to the story. That there are others with legitimate opinions and feelings and rights.
I never enjoy Facebook around elections. Somebody posts a link. Somebody else comments that it’s a pack of lies and that candidate is straight from Satan. There is no helpful discussion. There is no searching for the root of the issue, or solving real problems. There’s only “my guy’s better than your guy!” Which, let’s face it, is more accurately described as “my guy is less awful than your guy.” Truthfully, if we re-stated most issues, we’d probably agree. It’s the “how to get there” we disagree on. Yet in the midst of everything, it gets personal. Suddenly we forget that the people on Facebook are people we know in real life. People with whom we have a history. People who, at least at some point in our lives, we called friend. Would political discussions happen this way if we were having them over dinner face to face? I doubt it. The stupid computer detaches us from the real people we know.
There is not a single person I am friends with on Facebook just so I can see how they feel about politics. I want to see pictures of your kids. I want to see a picture of the cake you worked so hard on. I want to read that you got a new job. Or that you found an extra prize in your Crackerjacks. Maybe you tried a new latté at Caribou or Starbucks, and it was good. That’s what I want.
Politics has its place. I will vote. I will research the candidates using the most non-partisan information I can find, and I will decide who to vote for on my own. I honestly do not care one bit what anyone else in the world thinks about it. I’m all for a healthy political discussion in person. But I am left feeling that it needs to be outright BANNED from Facebook. My opinion on politics is not changing by what is posted, but my opinion of some people is definitely changing. That makes me incredibly sad.
So much more heartbreaking to me, is the opinion I’d have of God if I didn’t already know who he was. I’m afraid Jesus can be easily misrepresented. So many times as I read what people post – and especially the way they post it – I think to myself, “Wow – that is NOT the kind of God I’d want to give my life to.” Or “If that was what it meant to be a Christian, I would definitely not be interested.” I’m thankful to have a strong faith, and to know what I believe. It’s not that I have it all together and that I’m right. I’m a mess. But I do try very hard to be careful of what image of Jesus I put off. When I became a follower of Christ, it was the peace others had that attracted me to him. It wasn’t fear. It wasn’t judgement. I wanted the peace of Christ. And that’s what I want others to see in me. I’m sure I fail constantly, but I’m trying.
It’s not just politics. That’s just an easy example of the way we’ve stopped caring about people. I grew up in a newspaper family. I have always had a healthy respect for the written word. Once you write it, it can take on a life of its own. Print or publish it somehow, and those words have serious power – even more than words just spoken. Spoken words are strong, but published words have been edited. They are more purposeful. Even a status or comment on Facebook has been chosen carefully, just by the process of writing it down. Spoken words are easily forgotten. Written words are studied, read and re-read.
Have you ever received an email or message that hurt your feelings? Maybe you saw something someone else posted somewhere? Did you read it and forget it? I’ll bet not. I’ll bet you went back to it. You read it again. You considered it. You imagined the inflection. You maybe even added a tone to it that wasn’t there. You wondered if that’s what they meant. But if they didn’t, why did they say it that way? You analyzed it.
I don’t understand what’s happened. I don’t understand when we decided that we care more about our own opinion than we care about real people. And I really don’t know how we go about changing it. I’ll say it again. There has not been one political post that has affected my political beliefs. But the attitude used in many political posts has changed my opinion of people I know in real life. Choose your words wisely. People are reading.