As human beings we are prone to conflict. But even though we are drawn to conflict, we don’t like it. That’s why most people avoid controversial topics such as politics and religion. When someone does take the time to make a statement about their personal views or convictions, the rest of us have the choice: Avoid potential conflict by ignoring it and moving on, or engage and potentially have conflict.
I would say that the majority of the time, when we see/hear these kind of things in our everyday lives we make the first decision and move on because relationships matter, but every so often we engage. Does the conversation remain civil? Or does it descend into flame throwing and insults? If we’re looking at everyday interactions between people I would say it’s usually civil, though it can turn sour, but when the conversations take place on a platform such as Facebook it quickly becomes, what John Green, refers to as “a dark and surreal descent into madness.”
Time and time again I have seen others, and have myself been, the target of attacks on Facebook for my personal opinions and beliefs by people I considered to be friends and even members of my extended family. What I mean by attacks are not simply “I disagree” kind of things, but the kind of hyperbole and blatant disregard for the person at which their comments are directed, namely an old friend or family member. If we were having this discussion in the living room or in the car, would such words be used so freely? Or would there be restraint? These are questions that need to be asked if we are to continue to live together and interact as friends and family while disagreeing on certain issues.
We hide behind our avatars, even when it’s our own faces. We disconnect the fact that, not only are we talking to and about real people, but that those we’re speaking of are real people that we say we care about (or at least used to care about). If we do, truly care for those people still, why do we attack them and their beliefs just because we disagree? I’m not talking about sharing videos or articles about something that someone else might-possibly disagree with, those are media by which constructive conversation can be had. What I’m talking about are clear and deliberate attacks on an individual that you personally have a relationship with the intention of making them shut up or look bad so that you can win by any means necessary. Why does this matter? Because, as I said before: relationships matter… or they should anyway. #JustBeingHonest