Three years ago, I broke up with my TV. The dastardly thing had a habit of telling me what to think about everything.
All of you black, white, Asian, hispanic, older, younger, northern, southern, popular, unpopular, famous, nonfamous, Buddhist, Christian, atheist, agnostic, cat-owning, dog-owning, conservative or liberal voting people. You precious, precious people who are so much more than any label.
Now that I’ve unplugged, it’s easy to see how propaganda distracts people from the truth. I can tell what your televisions told you to think about each other (and current events) on any given day by watching social media. Unplug your TV for six months and you’ll see how Facebook and Twitter routinely explode in patterns of discord between groups of people who, suddenly and in tandem, are offended. Hurt. Feeling marginalized by society.
We’ll never find our way back to each other with that mindset.
It’s not that people don’t have good reasons to feel offended, hurt, or marginalized by society these days. It’s that we’re mindlessly consuming exaggerated caricatures of one another without realizing that everything, from our favorite TV dramas to the nightly news, generates revenue by making us mad at each other.
Our hypersensitive culture is a cash cow, y’all. Conflict causes almost everyone to tune in, and the more viewers, the more ad revenue. You get the picture.
If you’re in a people group that’s misrepresented by stereotypes in the press, take a lesson: if we want peace with each other, we can’t afford to assume the media’s depictions of others is also gospel truth.
When the internet explodes with a hot button issue, ask yourself, “Do I wish, deep down, for reconciliation?”
Are you upset because you want to solve a problem? Or do you enjoy long, detailed lists of complaints about someone else’s shortcomings?
It’s time to rise above name-calling and have one-on-one conversations with people about unsettling things. Many Americans have drunk so much Conflict Kool-Aid that we can’t speak of anyone running for office without talking party-line politics, or take a political stance without attacking someone personally.
As the yelling gets louder, problems remain unsolved.
When was the last time you had an hours-long, soul feeding discussion in someone’s living room? When was the last time you shared your convictions one-on-one, away from the computer keyboards where trolls insult strangers for their beliefs? Do you have meaningful exchanges, seeking the heart the matter without dismissive words like “liberal, conservative, intolerant, tolerant,” and “judgmental,” which are used to avoid the hard work of considering uncomfortable viewpoints?
People, we should be able to disagree out of sincere concern, without shame, and with generous doses of the benefit of the doubt. Please hear me: we can choose never to get up from our computer keyboards with blood on our hands again. Ever.
I believe it’s healthy to debate important things on social media. But let’s move beyond the F-bombs, name-calling, and the desperate need to look like the smartest aleck in the room.
It’s better to reason together for elevation. If we crowdsource respect and common sense, we’re bound to reach a better day.
photo by Ale Paiva