It’s not surprising to me how strongly divided we are as a country.
Social media has provided us—quite wonderfully, I should preface—a platform to voice our thoughts and opinions, find groups who think as we do, and discuss ideas that are important to us in a large forum.
Perhaps an unforeseen consequence of having nearly total control over what we consume is that many of us have barricaded ourselves behind topics and ideas we agree with and, as a result, have created echo chambers.
I see the following statement often, “I just don’t agree with this. Unfollowing!”
By no means should you feel obligated to surround yourself with voices that anger, sadden, or frustrate you, but keep in mind that having the power to remove, silence, or drown out the voices you don’t agree with comes with consequences.
It reveals the weak point in living more and more of our lives online. We get to curate our lives and the information we see. We get to choose to digitally connect with those who share common views while removing those who don’t. While we grow closer to those who think as we do we are unconsciously driving a wedge between us and those who don’t.
Could this be any more evident than right now?
Asking “How could anyone vote for Trump?” or “Who do these marching women think they are?” aren’t questions of authentic curiosity and desire to learn more about someone else. They are sarcastic attempts to belittle the other side and draw anger-fueled responses from our like-minded followers.
Social media has given us the power to speak without needing to listen and, at a click, remove and silence those who oppose. This can be extremely dangerous. It breaks down bridges where we need to be building them.
Despite all the good social media provides, it does not and can never replace putting our arms around one another and connecting in ways that truly matter, connecting in our shared humanity through stories of struggle, triumph, failure, success, and growth as individuals.
We can disagree around the dinner table and still walk away as family. But with social media, we are removing the person who disagrees, taking their chair away, and replacing them with someone who agrees with us. This is no way to remain united as family. This is how we become strongly divided.
Don’t believe the lie the world has been trying to tell you that to disagree is to hate. To disagree is to disagree, and we must always have a seat for those who disagree at the family table.
It’s the only way we can remain united as family. We mustn’t use social media as a replacement for heartfelt, fully human discussion about complex issues.
I encourage you, before you take your thoughts and opinions to social media, talk with an actual human being who has been impacted through the actions of others, through policies, or through social stigmas that you are about to go online to berate or praise.
It might not change your mind, and it is your right to disagree, but it will certainly instill in you a greater sense of empathy for your fellow man and their personal journey in discovering what it means to be human and be who they were created to be.
And right now, more than anything, empathy is something we need more of. But empathy is only felt when we open our hearts to connect to another person’s story. And that rarely happens online.
Lead by truly connecting.