Don’t read the comments. You hear that a lot these days on social media, forums, probably Reddit (though I don’t touch that festering pile of internet STDs). People post a link to an article, and then implore you not to read the comments because they are too toxic.
I always read the comments. I want to know what people are saying. I want to know what’s out there. That’s probably why I knew Donald Trump could win when even 538.com said he didn’t have a chance.
This isn’t some brag of mine trying to impress you. But, hey, if it does, cool. This is one more argument for avoiding the echo chamber. As I’ve said before, I purposefully read articles from both sides of our current political dysfunction. I want, no… need to know what people are saying. Because if they feel comfortable saying it, what they’re thinking is probably even stronger.
But I go farther than that. You know how you see posts from fed-up people saying “…and if you don’t like it you can just un-friend me!”, or “I’m un-friending everyone that doesn’t contact me in the next 24 hours to let me know they really care what I have to say”, or whatever? Yeah, you won’t see that from me. Because no matter how much I dislike what my friends and acquaintances might be posting, I need to know.
I’ve recently seen posts from people I’ve known since childhood that have, frankly, shocked me. Dropped my jaw right down to the floor. Hate-filled, willfully ignorant, bigoted, and racist posts. I had no idea. Maybe this was how they felt all along and I’m just more aware now. More “woke” in the current parlance. Or maybe they are emboldened by the current regime, as many in the media would tell us. I don’t know. But I’m seeing more and more of it now.
But will I unfriend them? Will I block them and keep them out? No! I’ll pull them closer, or try to. I will comment on their hate-filled posts, trying to get them to see reason. I will call them on the phone and talk to them about my positive experiences with the people they are vilifying. Will it help? Probably not. But I don’t care, I must try. If I don’t, who will?
And, of course, as I’m writing this, The Onion drops this article.
“Open-MInded Man Tries to get News from Variety of Facebook Friends“
Thanks for always keeping me humble, Onion.
It is frightening to me the amount of hate I see out there today. I really do think there is a rift in this country (and probably beyond) between people who just absolutely hate anyone who isn’t on “their side” and people who don’t see it that way. I’m clearly in the second camp and therefore biased, but I realize and admit this.
What will come of this? There must be a reckoning. There will either be outright fighting, or, possibly, a sacrifice. And, to be honest, I would prefer the second. Yes, it’s a horrible thing to say, but I would rather something atrocious happen to a person or small group that is so, so horrifying, that the hate-filled see what their hate leads to and they shrink back from what they’ve wrought. As terrible as this is, it is better than… civil war. Call me an alarmist, but that is what I see out there. Brother vs. brother. Childhood friend vs. childhood friend. Angry enough to fight.
The only way I can see to head this off is dialog. I don’t necessarily think it will work, but I/we must try.
So, I implore you, read the comments. See what I see. Don’t hide. Don’t wrap yourself in your cozy echo chamber. Be aware of what is out there on the “other side”, whichever that may be. Try to make yourself understood to the “other side”. Try to understand the “other side” yourself.
‘ignorance binds beings in endless frustration and suffering, wisdom is liberating.”
-the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet