Something I Miss

I miss civil discourse.

While our access to one another via technology has grown and brought us the ability to remain in constant contact, I think it’s also deteriorated our ability to listen to one another, empathize, and think critically. It’s become far too easy to only subscribe to one set of beliefs and to surround yourself with ONLY those beliefs. It’s far too easy to immerse yourself in a pool of people and websites and pages that promote what you think. It becomes far too easy, then, to believe that your thoughts, beliefs, and ideals are the only right way to exist.

We sit at keyboards and call people “libtards,” fascists, idiots, assholes, etc, when they don’t agree with us. People I’ve known my whole life have decided to hate each other over internet fights that I truly don’t believe would happen face-to-face. Politically moderate friends try to present facts and have been insulted and even physically threatened in comments. It’s scary. It’s sad.

It’s where we’re at.

I hope we can get to a point as a society that we can recognize that all the screaming, yelling, and insulting is doing more harm than good. I hope we can shut up long enough to actually listen to what someone is trying to tell us. I hope that whatever we’re trying to say can be done without name-calling and insults. Yes, dissent is part of a free society. I am not arguing that we should all shut up and ignore wrong-doing. What I am saying is that there’s a better way to communicate.

One half of communication is the ability to LISTEN. When people are passionate about something we disagree with, we have a tendency to knee-jerk react. Behind the relative safety of a keyboard, especially, we begin ranting and name-calling. Has anyone who’s done this actually changed anyone’s mind? From what I’ve seen, the people who like to get into Facebook fights are pretty firmly set in their opinions, and nobody is going to convince them to change their minds through miles-long comment threads – especially if those threads are laced with threats and insults.

The best way to have a civil discourse with someone is to get out and meet face-to-face. Sit down over coffee or a beer. Look into the eyes of your “opponent.” Shut up and listen to what they have to say and maybe mentally count to ten before you respond. Maybe I’m an optimist, but I think we’re more alike than we are different. And if we took the time to actually connect in civil discourse, I think we’d see that.


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