Today I found myself becoming extremely frustrated and angry looking at a Facebook post. Someone was stating a fact that was actually an opinion. As I was getting ready to debate the author’s point, I realized something. I’m not sure I even disagree with their point, so why was I about to pick a fight?
What they were saying wasn’t entirely wrong – it had some valid points. But what infuriated me was the way they were saying it. I found myself wanting to ignore the valid points and fight back with what I thought was wrong.
It was one of those “I know everything, my way is right, and if you don’t agree with me you are stupid” posts. No respect for any other opinions or beliefs that didn’t agree with their own.
Had my best friend, who is kind and pleasant, posted that same thing – I might’ve read it and thought there are some valid points here. Or if the same post had been a bit more respectful, I wouldn’t have been ready to debate so quickly.
Before the internet, I don’t remember as much of the self-righteousness behind so many of our opinions. You could have an enjoyable discussion or debate with someone and then walk away as friends. So, what changed?
On a side note – watch this funny video of how the smartphone killed debates. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lb458ATRByc
I think one of the huge transformations is that now people have a greater voice. As we all know, that can be misused. A huge problem I see is one person’s opinion can now be supported by a bunch of people they don’t even know, giving false credence to it.
We are now connecting to 8 million people we don’t know and are getting validation for our points of view without any real substantive discussion.
For example, I could post that the sky is green, and I guarantee you that I would be able to find people that would agree with me. Not with any facts, just opinions. Therefore, I now walk away feeling confident that the sky is green without any supporting facts.
But is the sky really green? No. Had I asked a friend standing next to me they could have reminded me that I am wearing sunglasses with green shades are on and I might want to take them off.
Sadly, our human nature is to believe if there are others that agree with us – it must be true. But remember, reasoned opinion is still just an opinion – is not necessarily fact.
What’s my point in all this?
Before we jump to a debate or discussion on Facebook, or other social media, maybe we should ask ourselves some questions:
- Do I really agree or disagree with the article/post or am I just reacting to who posted it?
- If I am stating a fact, do I have information to support this, or do I just have a lot of “followers”?
- If I am stating (or reading) an opinion, am I responding with kindness and respect?
I am planning to start asking myself these questions before I react to anything I read. Even if someone really does have unicorns flying in their backyard.
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