I quit Facebook a couple of years ago; I decided I just wasn’t cut out for it. I suffer from the inability to let egregious errors slide, especially when the topic is an important one. It’s not that I think I’m always right; I’m open to correction with a good argument. Unfortunately, that’s not a response I got very often. Most of the time, the responses were couched in personal terms: I was a troll, I was being too picky, or, in one case, I was making a ridiculous fool of myself for disagreeing.
Maybe they’re right. I’ve had similar reactions on Twitter, although I’ve learned to just withdraw at the first sign of it. What I find oddly disturbing, though, is how often a simple disagreement is characterized as a lack of respect. Have we really come to the point where we think it’s disrespectful to openly disagree?
Social media seem to be seen as places where anyone gets to express their opinion, no matter how misinformed, or, indeed, insulting, without the fear of being exposed to contradiction. If I don’t think something you’ve posted is correct, fine; I get to post my own opinion, but not in response to yours. As a result, we, as a people, can happily continue shouting at each other without engaging in any meaningful discussion.
Nothing wrong with this, where mere opinion is concerned, I suppose, but the line between opinion and verifiable fact has all but disappeared in our discourse. And that’s very dangerous in a democracy, because it leaves us open to all kinds of manipulation. Not the least of which is the illusion that the majority of the nation feels exactly as we do on all the issues of importance, because we never allow ourselves to hear anything different. As a result, when an election goes astray from what we perceive as the inevitable result, we’re convinced it’s because of corruption, or worse, a conspiracy. And who’s to tell us otherwise?
If there’s a single word to describe this trend it’s this: childish. It goes along with our fascination with the simple black/white dichotomies of the comic-book movies we’re inundated with, and “extreme” sports, also straight out of the comics. Are we doomed to continue this prolonged adolescence forever?
Hey, if we’re prolonging our adolescence, that means we’ll never grow old., right?
(Or maybe that’s just the underlying theme of our ‘forever young’ culture)
People have become so thin-skinned that it’s virtually impossible to express an opinion without someone taking it as a personal attack and going ballistic over it. And we’re not allowed to disagree with anyone who offers a heartfelt opinion on any subject, regardless of how ill-informed they may be, because opinions are a one-way street: MY way is the only way!
You got it.
So very astute. Can’t help but wonder how we sunk to this level.
Laziness, is my guess. Big, fat, glutted laziness.
Social Media is the virtualization of the playground with all of its petty tiffs and juvenile taunts. The problem is that there is no “teacher” to step in when the bullies get carried away. Far from being an open forum for the airing of diverse opinions, it seems to be more about enforcing homogeneity through peer pressure. I too tried it for a while, quickly became bored and disgusted, and deleted my Facebook account after about a year.
Agreed. It’s disappointing, though, how long it takes to outgrow the playground.
” Have we really come to the point where we think it’s disrespectful to openly disagree?”
Perhaps I live too much of my life into the past; but whenever I read about the colonial era (despite all the bad things that existed in society back then; like racism, sexism, etc) I picture those men back then sitting in cool little home libraries, their pipes filling the room with the smell of tobacco, beer glasses in hand, as they go toe-to-toe debating the various things like Thomas Paine’s Age Of Reason or perhaps Aquinas or Plato….i imagine them having really heated (and eloquent) debates… and then at the end of the night they shake hands and thank each other for the great conversation….
now-a-days to merely disagree with someone openly can bring a hell fire upon you :*(
Too true. Of course, the other side may be that we just don’t take the hellfire and give as good as we get anymore. But for sure, handshaking afterwards is out; too effeminate. 😉