If You Can’t Say Something Nice . . .

Saturday morning, I was browsing through Facebook on my phone when I came across yet another thing Trump had done that irritated me. (Surprise surprise.) I immediately shared it, along with a snarky dig at any Republicans who still somehow still support him, and then I went about my scrolling session.

Except the share stuck with me. Why had I shared that article, along with the veiled insult to Republicans? What did I hope to achieve by it? And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I’d pretty much done it for two basic reasons: to make a (somewhat) passive (and much more) aggressive swipe at those Republicans, and to get an amen from like-minded people who agreed with me. I didn’t think for a moment that this final piece of evidence would be the thing that finally made all the people who think I’m wrong suddenly start thinking I’m right.

Once I came to that realization, I went back and deleted the post. It just wasn’t worth my time and attention, and it wasn’t going to solve anything.

I’m going to try and follow that patten for future shares. I have a tendency to come up with pithy comments about things in the news, and I like to share that snark with the world. “Ooh! That’ll make a great Facebook post,” I think, and five seconds later it’s a reality. And then I get to sit back and bask in the Likes as they pour in.

But these days, with both sides as entrenched as they are, I don’t think pithy comments and sharing news stories is really going to move the needle at all, except in the “Rage” category. Think of it this way: when a Trump supporter shares something that they’re very proud of, how much does it make a non-Trump supporter really think? These days, you dismiss it due to the source, or the slant, or any number of reasons.

Yes, I might have a lot of deeply held beliefs about information sources, and I might feel like those beliefs and opinions are worth more than someone who’s not a trained information professional. But just as I have those opinions, that Trump supporter has deeply held opinions about the veracity of that article. The blunt fact is that at this point, I think the *only* way those opinions have a chance of changing is through a lengthy discussion. Pithy Facebook posts just don’t cut the mustard in those situations.

So will I still state my opinions on my blog? You betcha. I can really delve into what I think and why I think it here in a way a pithy post can’t capture. Possibly some of what I say at length might be able to do what that short share couldn’t.

This is something I would encourage both “sides” to do. Stop posting things that do nothing but enrage you or the opposite “side.” Because the more we start thinking of ourselves as opponents, the more set against each other we’re going to become.

And yes, I realize that you might well feel that your pithy posts are not only justified, but necessary. That there’s so much Wrong out there that you need to fix by reminding everyone of that Wrong at every turn. The thing is, we’re at the point in an argument when people are no longer listening. If you were having this debate in person, you would have given up a long time ago. Facebook just lets that argument continue . . . forever. Because Facebook makes money off it. They’re like the Sith that way. Feeding off your anger and hate.

Be more like Yoda, people. Like with any debate, if we could have a cooling off period and approach this all with fresh eyes and minds, then maybe we’d have a hope of coming together and reaching some actual solutions. But who am I kidding? What are the odds of anything cooling off before November, or even after that?

Zero, as long as the rage-shares continue . . .


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