By Eli Bowman
On social media, we are all well aware of how to press the “hot buttons” of our political counterparts. That’s part of the fun of arguing! Even when we agree with someone on many things when we find a divide we immediately pounce with claws at the ready to tear their ideology apart with logical superiority and eloquence that would make Thomas Jefferson green with envy. Once we “win” we sit back in our computer chairs with our hands behind our heads, make the smuggest smirk we possibly can, bask in the soft glow of our self-importance, and expect the slow clap to begin from some onlooker who witnessed the whole, fantastic thing.
But no clapping begins…and Jeb Bush isn’t around to ask.
In fact, nothing happens.
Minutes later, as you try to get back to your business, you realize that you actually don’t feel all that great. Maybe this has happened to you. The reason is that you didn’t accomplish anything other than strengthening the walls of your own echo chamber and widening the ideological divide we have in our nation.
Later on, as you scroll through your social media feed you see another thread, but this one seems different. You see people of differing opinions, on a SOCIAL ISSUE no less, calmly and respectfully engaged in a civil discourse, where BOTH sides of the argument are not only making their cases with strong evidence but are simultaneously learning from their ideological opponent in such a way that it makes them question. They aren’t questioning their principles necessarily, but they are questioning their position.
As you complete the thread you are itching to get your say in. You think to yourself that these fools have no idea what kind of thunderous hammer is about to come down on them since they are BOTH wrong. And boy do you let them have it; three or four sentences of belittling, demonizing, divisive wroth that should teach them a thing or two. You take a sip of your Red Bull as you wait for their petty attempt to swing back…but it never comes. They continue on with their lame, calm, respectful conversation without even acknowledging your existence, let alone your powerful retort. You close your laptop and stare into space, wondering why you were ignored after your glorious victory earlier. Maybe you weren’t as powerful with your words as you thought. Maybe, just maybe, you lost your respectability. Maybe it’s time now to try to get better ideas on how to influence people like Ampfluence.com
Obviously, this is a scenario that we can all relate to on some level. Some of us have been the fool, while others have witnessed the fool in action. Whatever your degree of involvement in social media fighting you can learn a lesson from the two folks engaging in civil discourse over issues that have the highest degree of emotion and pathos.
Nobody wins when we scream at each other through our screens. Nobody is edified or made better by divisive, venomous back and forth. No one learns, grows, or is persuaded when regurgitated platitudes abound in heated and harmful debate. No, it is in the de-polarizing of issues and the deescalating of discourse where growth and progress happen at the same time. After all, to what end do we endlessly fight on social media if we seek not growth or progress? Neither the former nor the latter can occur when polarization, vanity, and escalation rule over humility, respectability, and understanding.
If you find that you’re part of the problem seek out a different method. Practice with your friends first, then take your newly found, respectable methodology of social civil discourse into the world and maybe, just maybe, you’ll further your cause instead of harming it.