I’ve been noticing that there is an increase in polarization when it comes to opinions on social media. That polarization in many cases is causing people to shut down and not listen to what the other person is saying. It’s creating division instead of inclusion on many important topics.
This past weekend, I shared an article that was posted on Hockey Feed about P.K. Subban which spoke about an initiative that P.K. has spearheaded in his community to build bridges between law enforcement and underprivileged youth.
I quickly read the article, saw the contrast it made between his actions and those of the NFL and didn’t think much of it before I shared.
The next thing I knew, someone commented and said this:
“Most divisive article ever (okay, I exaggerate) in the first paragraph.
1) As Jennifer said, PK is not the only or the first black athlete to do incredible things in their community (that’s why it’s CALLED the Walter Payton Man of the Year award).
2) As Susan said, they aren’t protesting the anthem, the flag, or the country. They are protesting the systemic racism that pervades our country.
3) The first paragraph calls these men “millionaire athletes” it an attempt to make them sound like whiny, overprivileged, little boys complaining about the way they are treated and implying that this man’s way is the right way. From the very beginning, the men protesting have made it clear that this isn’t about them. It’s about the communities they come from and communities like their communities all across the country. They made it clear they feel incredibly fortunate (NOT privileged – they’ve done it through hard work) to have made it, and they protest to give back. This article has the effect on WPP (white people of privilege) of saying – see, this man does it, why don’t all you people protesting stop making me uncomfortable and take care of your own problems (which also means that they see the problems in black communities as something black people must solve).”
My immediate reaction was “SHE is not hearing ME.”
Then a voice in my head prompted me to consider that maybe, I wasn’t hearing her.
When I turned away from advocating my opinion and stepped into inquiring to understand where she was coming from, everything changed.
My defensiveness dissipated.
My desire to find a better article showed up. This is it.
The feelings I had of being heard were validated.
We had a great conversation followed by mutual respect for each other.
In this situation, I heard what she said because I made it my intention to do so. I wanted to honor what she had to say from a place of inclusion instead of division. When I did that, my perspective changed.
Facebook alone has 2 billion active users per month. That’s a lot of people who see and interpret things differently. When you log onto Facebook and you consume the opinions of others, you won’t always agree.
That doesn’t mean you need to make someone else wrong, in order for you to be right. It means we need to listen to each other better. We need to be okay with expressing different opinions and not allow our own emotions to trigger us into heated debates that serve no purpose.
Social media is a tool.
It’s a tool that can connect us to each other and elevate our levels of happiness because we feel part of a community. It’s also a tool that can spark heated debates, anger against each other, anxiety and depression.You get to choose how you allow others to make you feel. Click To Tweet
There are good and bad in how we use every tool. When you are reading a status update, more often than not, you’re projecting your own feelings and emotions onto the interpretation of someone else’s words.
Next time you feel triggered, or you feel like someone isn’t listening to you, try listening to them first and being okay with not agreeing with every opinion expressed online. You get to choose which debates you get involved in. You also get to choose how you allow others to make you feel. My friend Julie has a great statement that allows her to navigate this stuff that you might want to borrow which is, “If my life was over in 72 hours, would this matter to me right now?”
Everything is not black and white, but we cannot get to any middle ground or open up our perspectives without hearing what others have to say. Whether we agree, or not.
I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know…do you feel that these debates on social media are valuable conversations or a waste of time and energy?