When I was a freshman in high school, I dreamed of being a lobbyist.
My history teacher, Mr. Mee, taught us that lobbyists work for organizations they believe in to assure their views are heard and attempt to get them made into law. I don’t recall the exact wording- it was over 25 years ago. But I remember the definition seemed even handed and I came away feeling that lobbyists were do-gooders, not corporate slime. Because of Mr. Mee, I also believed in the architecture of our political system- a structure of checks and balances designed to ensure the will of the people is done.
Thanks to social media, I now hate politics.
Every morning, I check my Facebook account. I peruse photos of people’s pets and lunches. I hear the latest gossip. I “like” cute kid pictures. And I groan at what seems like twenty hate-filled political rants. Most of the time I ignore them. But today, I saw this:
“EVEN the DIE HARD LIBERALS are coming to the realization that Obama is a Communist…. Angelina Jolie just laid down some lines adding up to the fact that He’s a traitor to the US…. one down and a couple thousand more jackass liberals that need to wake up to the truth….”
I don’t know why, but I responded. Perhaps it is because I do not believe Obama is a communist, but maybe when I become privy to the knowledge Angelina Jolie possesses I will be swayed:
“I’m a pretty die hard liberal and I haven’t come to that realization.”
I was met with this:
Maybe I am a jack ass (I’ve been called worse) but do we really think we are going to solve complex societal problems with these kinds of interactions? If we can’t offer common courtesy in our communications with others, what hope do we have of reaching a reasonable compromise?
Perhaps I made the mistake of assuming compromise is the desired outcome. But isn’t that the point of our political system- to ensure everybody is heard, and that we do the will of the majority of the people, regardless of left or right leanings?
Rants like these are in no way trying to build actual dialogue. I assume they are designed to disgust people like me and force us to leave the conversation. If that is the tactic, hats off- its working. But if we all have the same goal of providing the best life possible for the citizens of this country, wouldn’t it serve everyone’s interests to create a platform where people could share and debate ideas?
To that end, I propose the following rules for political posts on social media.
1. No use of capitol letters- Think of it like a work meeting. I’m going to assume and hope you give your coworkers the courtesy of talking to them, not shouting at them. Think of me as your coworker- maybe we don’t share the exact same view of the project, but we all get our say at the meeting.
2. Outlaw words like “traitor,” “dirt bag,” “jerk,” “jack ass”- yes, the list could go on and on, but we are adults. I think we can do better than name calling.
3. If you are going to post about a problem, post your solution- give others the chance to pick apart your decision making the way you want to pick apart the ideas of others. We are so quick to jump on every move made in our society, without fully grasping the complexity of the decisions in question. Think of yourself as a child or raising a child- how many mistakes did you make as a parent or as a kid? How many things do you wish you had the foresight to do differently? Now imagine making decisions for millions of children, each with a unique background and set of beliefs. I’m going to guess you might not get every decision right.
4. Do not start political conversations unless you sincerely want to open dialogue between all sides. If you simply want to have people with similar views pat you on the back and congratulate you for your hate filled diatribe, do me a favor and create a dis list of your like-minded buddies and send it to them. I would rather look at fifty cute cat pictures. I would love to look at every adorable baby picture you have. I do not need my day taken up with hate.
I know, it’s a lot to ask. But I dream of a day when I can look at post after post of Kimye news and videos of bad dance moves and not see a rant in the bunch. Ok, not really. I loathe the Kardashians, but I would look at 1000 photos of Kim if it meant no ‘I hate Obama’ posts.
Ok, there’s my rant- sorry, I will follow my own rules from now on.