I have plenty of opinions – whether they are affiliated with my political views or simply my moral compass, they are plentiful, and they are always developing.
Am I about to shove one of these opinions down my audience”s throat? No.
Why? Because I am capable of holding an opinion without forcing others to understand that it is the only viable stance on a topic. I can hold my own views without spitting on the views of others. I can remain secure in my beliefs despite the fact that others may not agree.
Based on my recent observations of human interactions on social media, this seems to be a novel idea.
This is not to say there is no room for political activism on Facebook. People can share articles, memes, whatever – but outbursts of negativity are something entirely different. While a meme questioning President Obama”s position on guns is tolerable, commenting on someone”s feminist-themed article to say disparaging things about “man-haters” is not. To be decent is to have your opinions be heard without feeling the need to bash others.
Scrolling through Facebook last week, I found a ray of light in my otherwise disheartening newsfeed. A friend of mine had posted a status that basically said, “I don”t understand why being “for” something means you”re automatically against something else. Good deeds don”t have to counteract each other, we can leverage our differences to build a kinder and stronger community together.”
Her status put into words what I have been thinking for months. I often fear voicing my opinion thanks to the trend I”ve seen in rude Facebook comments and backhanded subtweets. If this “believe what I believe, or else” attitude were muted, a more mature atmosphere would be promoted and Facebook wouldn”t be such a volatile environment for people just trying to see pictures of their cousin”s new baby.
Yet, my call for maturity transcends platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This is an issue of human decency and mindfulness.
When someone”s views, whether they are pro-choice or pro-gun or what have you, make you draw conclusions about their personal lives or character, keep it to yourself. It is that simple. Beliefs are derived from life experience, moral lessons learned and numerous other factors. Is it really so hard to separate a human from the positions they claim on controversial topics? No.
I don”t expect the entire social media environment to change anytime soon, and I don”t expect people to begin leaving political views out of assumptions of someone”s character, but I do hope that we all stop to think about how our negativity toward opposing views accomplishes nothing.
Instead, working to promote our own views in respectful ways without feeling the need to slam others would be a good place to start.
Lyndsie Kiebert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lyndsie_kiebert