With the election coming up in about a month, I’ve noticed a behavioral pattern online and in person that I’d like to address.
This one is all about opinions.
While this observation spawned from the presidential election, it is obvious that this type of behavior happens outside of political issues as well.
I’ll get to the point.
I’m talking about the way in which we as a society tend to negatively react to opinions that differ from our own. No, this does not happen in every situation, some people are very strategic at challenging opinions in appropriate ways, but I don’t think that’s the common courtesy in society today.
“I don’t think.” I mean, that’s my opinion, and even typing those words is uncomfortable for me, because I have become so scared to express my personal opinions. This is due to how easily things can get out of control if someone disagrees with you, and I see that first hand every day. I’m sure you do too.
You all know how much I love social media, but it has really begun to shape our opinions in quick and drastic ways. The immediacy of social media does not motivate us to take a step back, look at all of the facts and THEN develop an opinion. I think this leads to a lot of conflict and opposing opinions.
When you are online, before you hit” ‘post’ consider two things.
- Would you say exactly what you are posting to the person if they were sitting right in front of you?
- Would you say what you are posting in front of a room full of several hundred people?
Because that is really what you are doing. And if you are passionate about an idea, you will feel comfortable in actually doing those things. You should feel comfortable considering an opinion other than your own.
In a country where you are free to believe what you want, it’s sad that we have to be afraid or anxious about expressing an opinion that we are passionate about. When our Founding Fathers created the Constitution, I don’t think immature debates were encompassed in the idea of “Freedom of Speech.”
In a perfect world, disagreements could be solved with healthy debate. A healthy debate or conversation that didn’t result in “calling someone out” or pulling unnecessary cards to prove a point.
In my opinion, all opinions and perspectives that we hold are greater than ourselves, as are differing opinions that we may not agree with.
It’s okay to be friends with someone who has a different thought process on an issue than you. It’s okay to be disgusted by some opinions, or really irritated by them. That’s when you reflect on the issue and debate in a healthy way, or just keep it to yourself and vent to your loved ones. Projecting frustrations to the world isn’t going to change or alter that reality.
Just because someone believes in an idea that contradicts your own, doesn’t mean your opinion has less personal merit. Just because you believe in an idea that contradicts someone else’s, doesn’t mean their opinion has less merit to them.
Conflicting opinions is something that has helped build society over time. We are forced to think about ideas in a different light, and that’s a pretty cool way to expand your beliefs, or strengthen the argument for your current opinions.
It is how we react to differing ideals, however, that really counts and exemplifies our character. Personally, and as a society.