Social media destroys relationships.
Not every relationship.
Not every person.
Not every day.
I have had several instances in which I posted something on social media and someone, zealous in their endeavor to prove themselves to have a superior moral compass, superior theological ideologies, or superior political views, turned my post into a warzone. I’ve had friends who didn’t even know each other hollering at each other on my posts in an effort to prove me or one another wrong. (Full disclosure: If someone turns my posts into a warzone, I change my privacy settings so that person can’t see anything I post. It’s not because I can’t handle opposing views. I simply believe that if you can’t be gracious when discussing your disagreement…. You know, that scripture about speaking with the tongues of men and angels….. You can speak with all sorts of eloquence, but if you don’t do it with love, you’re a clanging gong. No one wants to hear it.) I’ve had strangers beat me up on social media because someone I respect eats meat, and because I had the audacity to suggest that emotional trauma can sometimes manifest in gender dysphoria and because I suggested that when it comes to the color of one’s skin, what is more important than the color of one’s skin is the ability to connect on a human level with everyone, regardless of their skin color.*
Social media gives people a soapbox (coupled with the protection of distance and anonymity) on which to boldly declare their own superiority and everyone else’ inferiority.
I hate it.
Because when it comes down to it, we’re all just people. We’re not colors. We’re not political parties. We’re not races. We’re not theological beliefs. We’re not agendas. We represent those things at times. But before any of those things, we are people. Can we please just treat one another like we’re people, void of agendas and void of an internal sense of smugness about our own correctness and everyone else’ incorrectness?
I haven’t written much in the past few years because I feel that I have to self-censor so much that it just isn’t worth it to try. People’s pet agendas and social justice warrior stances make it impossible for people to own their own stories, their own convictions and their own experiences. If I tell my story, home school advocates come against me because “that’s not the way it is.” If I tell my story, faithful people everywhere get offended because “church is a hospital for the broken.” (Spoiler alert: It’s supposed to be, but it often fails miserably.) If I tell my story, therapists tell me that I suffer from a weird cognitive dissonance or some kind of denial because all that stuff is true, but it hasn’t destroyed my faith and it hasn’t made me disown my family.
Can we simply listen? Can we listen to hear, instead of listening to develop an argument? Can we respond with compassion and grace and generosity and understanding? Can we throw agendas to the side and embrace people simply because they are people, instead of quantifying them (or ourselves!) with adjectives that divide us into “white people” or “Christian people” or “Asian people” or “Atheists” or “educated people” or “Progressive people” or “Republicans” or “Socialists”? We are just people. The minute we started dividing ourselves by our adjectives, we started a subtle war that will never end until we decide that Ariel being a redhead means nothing because life isn’t about people’s differences. It’s about finding similarities in the midst of our differences. It’s about teaching our children to find something in people who are opposite from ourselves that we can appreciate and even understand. Life isn’t about forcing the world to conform to our demands. It’s about finding the very subtle similarities that are present in even the most opposite individuals. Life is about teaching children that there is more in the world and more to life than just our own selves, our own experiences and our own prejudices.
So, let’s be open. Let’s be humble.
Let’s learn to be kind again.
*Regarding race and color: I want to make it very, very clear that I have utmost respect for people of all races, colors, and ethnicities. There are many people of many races and ethnicities that I love and adore. I do not in any way wish to minimize the struggles that anyone has had pertaining to their race, color or ethnicity, because I know that many have been marginalized and treated very unfairly and many suffer greatly due to attitudes and events of the past that still impact them and their families many generations later. I am only saying that a little bit of openness to others who have different experiences, and understanding that our experiences are different and that’s ok (and yet, in spite of our differences, there is similarity somewhere), will get us a long way in our endeavor to create a kind and compassionate society.