The older I get, the more I find myself taking a cynical view of society. I don’t like being a cynic: not one bit, yet I find the cynical feelings creeping up on me if I am not careful to stand on faith and believe that the world is not really as bad as it sometimes seems.
The state of elections, political agendas, violence, and apathy towards others are all aspects of our world that wear on me in an ever-constant death-match between cynicism and hope.
I don’t believe any of these would be too frustrating if communication were up to the state it once was, but we have allowed communication as a society to deteriorate so drastically that courtesy is no longer common, just having your own opinion is something that attracts not only ridicule, but scorn expressed through violent and abhorrent words, and differences have now become offensive.
“We have allowed communication as a society to deteriorate so drastically that courtesy is no longer common”
I have heard the joke “2015: the year everyone was offended by everything,” and I laughed because it is true; but the truth of the matter is, we still are. This was not a passing thing. We all contribute to the problem. Weather we are the offended or not, we are contributing to a society that does most of its communicating through impersonal means online; a society that boils down our entire existence to what is shown in one’s online existence; a society in which thoughtless insults can be constantly hurled and the damage never realized by the party that dealt it.
We show that we care about issues by sharing a status update; we show love by sending a quick “happy birthday!” when our computer prompts us to do so; and we take stands on every political and social issue by sharing a post that sounds like it supports our way of thinking. We often do this without checking the facts of an article or meme because it sounds so serious and so frightening everyone has to know. We argue, we debate (often coldly and without any attempt at empathy). We get offline feeling like we have done our portion: we have raised awareness, we have stood our ground, and we have defended our little plot of internet-land from anything that would infringe on our own particular way of living. The problem is, we have NOT truly connected, we have NOT truly loved, we have NOT truly made a difference.
“We get offline feeling like we have done our portion: we have raised awareness, we have stood our ground, and we have defended our little plot of internet-land from anything that would infringe on our own particular way of living.”
This way of behaving has found seeped in to the throes of daily life (as was bound to happen). A true dialogue is hard to come by these days. Debates have become about who can yell the loudest, not about sharing ideas and evidence and coming to a conclusion. We now start every argument with a conclusion already made, and become increasingly more frustrated as the opposing party doesn’t “come to their senses and” agree with us as we expect they should.
Working in customer service is the same way: customers have unreal expectations that are taken out on employees who don’t magically get everything done in one click of a mouse; while customers often don’t feel heard by workers who are too preoccupied to care about work and legitimate customer issues.
Oh What a Difference Would be Made if we Knew How to Properly Communicate with One Another!!!!!
To make a difference, we have to love each other. We have to come from a position of understanding that every person we talk to has just as much human value as we do. The Bible equivocates hate with Murder “14 He who does not love his brother[a] abides in death.15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” (1 John 3:14b-15a NKJV)
When we insult others for being different than us, or having a different standing on an issue than we do, we are telling them that we value their humanity less than ours. We allow ourselves every possible allowance when it comes to growing and learning. A person’s life should not be over because of a mistake, or because we do not understand why they would have the opinions they do in life. Just because we don’t like someone else’s opinion, or post, or point of view is not enough reason to treat them with disrespect and devalue their life and right to exist. This is really what we are doing when we insult others for thinking differently than us.
When we want to take a stand, let us do so, but without using propaganda: let us make sure what we are posing are facts (it is very easy to fact check on google: especially with sites like snopes.com out there), and we are not furthering lies spread by people who have hateful intentions. Let us increase the accuracy of information that we share.
When someone posts something against your view, we need to use respectful dialogue if we feel the need to discuss it. Often times, I believe it is wise not to say anything, but in certain situations, It is important to try and understand the other person, and not frustrate them (and ourselves) further in an endless argument that resembles the juvenile “did not” “did too.” We have grown too much to go back to childish thought and childish argument. Put your beliefs out there, but don’t become confrontational about it or you are asking for a confrontation.
“It is important to try and understand the other person, and not frustrate them (and ourselves) further in an endless argument that resembles the juvenile “did not” “did too.” We have grown too much to go back to childish thought and childish argument.”
I have seen far too many discussion posts that use profanities to describe people who don’t agree in the thread: many directly hurled at specific individuals. When one does not agree, rather than presenting a counter argument, it is far too common to see them tell the other person that they wish they would die or kill themselves. I have even seen gruesome posts detailing how the comment-or believes the particular person in the comment-string should die. How far have our communication skills fallen?! This should not even need to be stated, but NEVER should we say these type of things to our fellow human beings! Where do we get the audacity to play God like this, and decide that an individual should no longer have the right to walk this earth because we don’t like their opinions?!!! This is the attitude that has been behind EVERY mass shooting and terrorist attack we have seen in our lifetimes. We need to be DIFFERENT, not dwell on fear and hate.
“Don’t become confrontational about it or you are asking for a confrontation.”
I am not posting this to point a finger, or because I am innocent of being judgmental myself. Although I would love to say I am always careful, I do mess up. I have poked fun when I shouldn’t have. In fact, the other day, a friend called me on a comment I had made, and it was a wake up call for me. My cynicism had, once again, gotten the best of me, and I had rather coldly judged the younger generation for behaviors that I honestly do not understand. I need to do better. We ALL need to do better.
We are called to LOVE, so the next time you find yourself posting a video or picture of someone who is “stupid” or “clumsy” or has the “wrong opinion.” (FYI, there is a REASON it is called an OPINION); next time you find yourself putting another down, laughing at others’ mistakes, or even a person’s bad reaction or a dislikable quality– please remember that we are all human: we all make mistakes, we all have bad moments when we are ruder than we should be, we all have moments of complete stupidity. How would you want to be treated if you were the person you are poking fun at?
If we own this, we can fix it. If not, it will become another problem in the background; never really being recognized and never really finding resolution. When will we escape this internet bubble, and become human beings once again?