Happy New Year!
2020 is in the books. To paraphrase Pumbaa, “Let’s put our behinds in our past.” In the last few years, our country has become more and more divided. This divisiveness reached a new high during the stressful times of 2020. But we can change that. Let’s make 2021 the year of reconciliation.
One way to start is to consider our tone on social media this year. Rather than emphasizing our differences, let’s seek to find common ground by listening and understanding each other. I put together a short list of ideas that I want to adopt for my social interactions this year. Perhaps you will find them useful as well. And maybe you can think of some others that would be helpful also. Here they are:
- No more fear mongering and name calling. Stop using terms that denigrate other people. For example, “snowflakes”, “libtards”, or “deplorables”. Just because someone has a different point of view from yours doesn’t automatically mean they are stupid or evil.
- “Love your neighbor as yourself”. This applies to social media as well.
- Do not share alternative “facts”. Truth is objective. Alternative “facts” are not facts, they are lies. People who promote conspiracy theories only care about making themselves more famous, wealthy, or powerful. The more people that are required to keep a conspiracy secret, the less likely it is that the conspiracy is true. If you haven’t taken the time to do the fact checking, don’t share it.
- Be cognizant of Confirmation Bias. Our brains automatically select things that support our views and suppress things that contradict those views. Are my opinions based solely upon social media posts or news articles that seem to support the opinion I already have? This is circular logic. Break out of the social media echo chamber. When you like or share things on Facebook, the news feed algorithm will prioritize more of the same kind of things. Make sure your opinions are based upon objective facts (#3 above) and support your core values. This is hard work.
- God will not punish you if you do not share that Facebook post, nor will He give you a special blessing if you do. Posts that claim to be God speaking are false (not to mention sacrilegious). Do not reshare them.
- For that matter, do not reshare any post that tells you to cut and paste and reshare. Posts like that are simply spam. Ignore them.
- Be encouraging. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” Many people are driven by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the “other”, fear caused by economic uncertainty, fear for personal safety, fear for their own and their loved ones’ health, fear of political unrest. This causes them to put up defenses and lash out at people whom they think are their enemies. But we are all in this together. Let’s find ways we can serve each other and build each other up. Together we will overcome and together we will thrive. (see #2).
Have a great 2021! Let’s make America civil again.