Monday, November 1, 2010

On the Wall

Social media continues to make it's presence felt in previously unimaginable ways. Bad enough there have been lives ruined, suicides, cyber-bullies, and unwanted advances of all manner and scope.
Another fascinating new dilemma has emerged to add to this unpredictable mix. What about "friends" that you have collected who don't actually share many of your values. People with whom your politics, or concept of religion, or life experience, or taste in everything from reading material to food is 180 degrees the other way.
Yet somehow, the two of you have shared something. A common thread has wrapped it's way around your lives and there you sit, face to face, literally.
I have acquired a number of these contra indications on Facebook and I'm just now beginning to deal with the possibilities. Mostly the consequences take the form of wondering just how my page appears to them. Many of the people I know from the thoroughbred horse industry are religious and politically conservative. Of course there are those horse folks whose views are similar to my own, but for the most part, some real value conflicts exist. They are rarely, if ever expressed. Maybe that's a good thing. Are they as tolerant as I am? That's what I wonder. Do they notice these glaring differences in worldview? Do they care?
One thing is certain, I have never been "de-friended" for my political view as far as I can tell.
I like to think that I may be tempting others to think about the kinds of things that I post. Guess that's the teacher in me. But then I also know that no real comprehensive level of discussion ever takes place on Facebook. Quick comments or a thumbs up click are most often as far as anything gets. Maybe some folks look at an article or video posted. That's a start.
I'm still sorting this situation out in my mind. I think there is something here; just not sure what. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
A few hours later...
Part of the current political climate involves painting most people with the same broad brush. Labels do that, the media exacerbates the situation, and our thinking becomes exceedingly loose. We seem to have lost the ability and the opportunity to have a civil discussion. I want to pitch an idea for a TV show. Another kind of reality show, perhaps. Not Politically Correct. That's been done. Maybe just correct. A chance for people to explain their beliefs and what supports those beliefs. Then have everything fact-checked. Invite people who listened to a reasoned, comprehensive discussion and actually changed their mind about something or re-thought a conviction to explain what happened. Most of all, discuss what it means when people who don't think alike on anything or many things actually become friends.

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