I remember as a very little kid overhearing my aunt say, “You don’t discuss religion or politics in public.” As a kid I didn’t really understand that viewpoint. Of course, the older I’ve become, the more true that statement has become.
This 2016 Election is no different. Taking my aunt’s words to heart, it isn’t a good idea to discuss politics in public, and yet, with the world of social media, we have the largest and most public political conversations possible. And to what avail? Very little, except for creating a rift between friends and a larger rift between acquaintances and an impassible gap between “enemies”. (My reference of “enemies” is the relationship between far-left and far-right individuals.)
The art of conversation has been lost, or, perhaps more definitively, it has been misconceived. There is a major misconception that has permeated through the public, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, political background, or any other thing that defines us. This misconception is that we can actually have logical and meaningful conversations with dozens, hundreds, thousands, or millions of people at the same time. Social media is a wonderful tool for declaration. Declaring a joke, a recipe, a photo, a meme, a political party. It is not a wise tool to declare the start of a civil conversation regarding politics.
FIND A GROUP, NOT AN AUDIENCE
For this reason, social media, especially Facebook, has the option for groups. These groups are typically of like-minded people. A bunch of “yes” people who will usually agree with most of the comments and views written out in the reply section. You will find, however, the rarity of like-minded people in bulk on the open sea that is the general feed.
I titled this blog post, “2016 Election = Open Forum” because I believe that turning this election into a moment of open forum is unwise. For one glaring reason, it’s too late to turn the tide of this election. And toting around the banner of non-consent to another person’s party or view won’t help the situation. That’s why media outlets have panels of only a few people, not a whole group or congregation.
REALIZING THE IMPERFECTION OF CANDIDATES
We are living in a world of big liars. They are big liars because the truth is uncovered so much quicker than it used to, so it seems politicians are lying at the drop of every hat. In this world of innovative and invasive technology, there is very little hiding or covering up. And it is for this reason that I have become so bothered by the open forum movement.
It seems neither follower, Liberal or Conservative, will concede to their party leaders’ lies or mishaps. If you’re asking, “What has my candidate done?” then you’re the person I’m talking about. I find it disconcerting, frustrating, aggravating, and downright despicable that so many blind eyes have marched toward the voting booths. Jesus said the truth will set you free, but it is the truth that people find most binding, especially in a political motivated moment. For this reason, I know that making a hubbub about one’s political preference or slamming the other’s political party as part of an open forum leads us only further down the path that we currently trod: the path to division.
I’ve been alive and loving it in America for 35 years. I’m officially old enough to become the President of the United States. And I’ve never seen the country so divided, yet cluttered with so many voices requesting, pleading, and demanding unification.
CAN WE BECOME UNIFIED?
I believe in the greatness of this country. Yes, even the fact that our country is still great despite its present state. I do not believe that we are the leaders of the “free world” that we once were. I believe that too many mistakes made by our presidents and congress over the past 20-plus years have levied that result. But unification: that’s possible. That is possible through time taken to discuss, not in the mass arenas of social media; though it does serve its purposes of unity, despite those purposes typically running along groups of the same mindset.
I believe it is possible to come together and find common ground on numerous ideas and ideals, though not all. I’m not disillusioned nearly enough to think that we can obtain a perfect world. We are not going to agree on everything, and that’s what makes this country so wonderful. You don’t have to agree.
First, we need to stop lambasting each other on Facebook or Twitter. We need to stop posting videos that read: “Watch this Republican Crush this Democrat” or “Liberal Totally Confuses Conservative with Truth.” And we need to stop feeding the beast by watching those videos and commenting on them. The YouTube comment sections are probably the most vile, revolting, and offensive areas you could ever view. So stop rummaging through it.
AND WHO ARE THESE CANDIDATES?
I’ll acknowledge that I, most like many people I’ve met, am not a fan of either candidate. But to the point I must make clear, a vote for a particular candidate rarely equates a person’s exact beliefs. Just because someone votes for Clinton or Trump doesn’t mean that all the values that candidate holds lines up exactly with theirs. No. We are voting for people. Imperfect people; though I suspect the far-left and far-right to believe the opposite about their particular candidate.
Somehow America has found itself in a real lose-lose situation with these two candidates. But I’m not here to create a firestorm for either side. I think we’ve had enough fire over the past few months.
So two things for both party followers: Don’t believe that your candidate is above reproach (if the news, videos, investigations, and confessions have proved anything, it should be that); and don’t get caught up in this scandal of mayhem that continues to ensue on social media.
I think my aunt’s words ring very true right now. But if you just can’t handle the thought of not posting or replying on social media, then take a moment to compose yourself before doing so. Think conscientiously on your words regardless of who is voted into office. If you are going to voice your opinion, whether on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc., then who am I to defer you to silence? But I think if you are going to take such a strong stance against anyone or anything, then maybe you should consider doing more than investing so heavily in the black hole that is social media. In other words, take up a cause, and if not that, then you better have at least freaking voted; otherwise, shut it.