How do you disagree on #SocialMedia?

Social mediaIn the last few months, social media has seemed an unsafe place. Because I have friends all over the world, I see their beliefs on my timeline. Each day I spend not having reacted to some of the views posted on there, I feel like I’ve aced some sort of test. While I’ve limited my time on social media for exactly this reason (some days books seem like the ultimate refuge), I also do not want to completely isolate myself– I’m part of the human community after all.

On the belief spectrum, I believe in equal rights for all, no discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual preference, skin color, religion, or place of origin. I’d like all of us to see each other as an alien would– as the human species. My belief is in compassion and equanimity. I’m mostly vegetarian, and I believe in moderation in every aspect of our lives. I also believe we as a species are harming the being that we’re part of, Planet Earth.

But these are just that: my beliefs.

I hold them dear, just as everyone else holds theirs. I’m as devout about these as devout Muslims are about their prayers, or Christians about their concept of sin, or businessmen about their concept of profit, or politicians about their ambitions.

Recently, I was very happy about women all across the US and the world marching for human rights: those beliefs seemed to jibe with mine. And then I read this post by blog and Facebook friend Ali Cross:

“I feel like I’m not a “real woman” because I do not relate to, nor understand, the whole Women’s March thing. I am not a v***a or a v****a. *I* am not my private parts. I’m annoyed that women said “I’m marching for women who couldn’t be here today.” I didn’t want anyone to march FOR ME. They didn’t represent ME.”

My response to her post are in the comments to that post, but to summarize: I respect her right not to feel as if she’s represented by the march, and to disagree with what it was about. In the comments, I found women who believed various things; and it  struck me that each of us has our set of beliefs that we hold dear, so dear that we are ready to tear down perfect strangers in order to spout those. We forget that just as we believe in certain things, they do too. That those beliefs are long-held, and emerge from what they’ve gone through in life.

I found this post by Lisa Novak, in response to Ali Cross, very helpful :

I simply implored those who disagree with me to try to wrap their heads around how I see things, not so they’ll change their position, but so they’ll comprehend my perspective the way I comprehend theirs. So they can say, “Yeah, that’s totally not where I’m at, but I get why you believe it.” So we can continue to respect one another and focus on the things we have in common.

In a subsequent FB post , Ali shared how her posts and Lisa’s had become the basis of a positive interaction between them.

For the last few months, I’ve been reading posts by another blog friend Arlee Bird, whose views on politics and religion seem diametrically opposite to mine. At the outset, I did try to put forward my views, as he has put his forward, with respect and positivity. But I find that the best way for me to stay connected with him at the moment is to respect his right to express his feelings on his blog, and step away for a while.  And that, I feel, is okay too. I’d rather interact with Lee the human, his love of music as shown through the Battle of the Bands, than his religion and politics.

social mediaIn talking to Ali, one of the things I was reminded of was this book Mindsight, and a quote from its author, Dan Siegel, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine:

When I speak to groups, I’ll bring together a choir to demonstrate integration.

First they all sing the same note, so there’s no differentiation. It’s boring, completely predictable, and rigid. That’s one extreme. Then I’ll ask them to plug their ears so that they don’t hear each other, and belt out a song that they think of in their mind. It’s a cacophony; it’s chaos. There’s differentiation, but not linkage.

Integration is a balance of linkage and differentiation. When I ask the choir to choose a song to sing together, 75 percent of the time, they pick “Amazing Grace.” They sing it in harmony. It’s a great example of integration because there’s differentiation through the harmonic intervals, and there’s linkage.

So here’s to respecting our differences, and finding and cherishing our linkages. Social media can become a toxic place if we focus and completely demonize the differences, and amongst the darkness that we all feel  (and for which we often blame each other) maybe it would do us some good to follow Ali and Lisa’s example, and find things that we do have in common. Lisa also shares this video on how to have more constructive political conversations: while it is particularly relevant to the USA, it could also be very useful to all of us all over the world. Respect and Empathy, are not just words: a lot of effort goes into the application of both to our conversations.

As an author, I use social media to understand my fellow beings, to stay in touch with them, and to express myself, as and when I feel the need.

Sending out hugs to everyone, to those who agree with my beliefs, but also, and even more so, to those who disagree with them. May we all find the the compassion and the will to celebrate our common humanity.

How has your social media experience been of late? What are your coping mechanisms for social media fatigue? Do you see sense in Dan Siegel’s view of Differentiation and Linkage? How do you disagree on social media? Do you find it a draining or enriching experience? What advice do you have for me and the audience of this blog in how to make constructive use of social media?

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I love comments, and I always visit back. Blogging is all about being a part of a community, and communities are about communication! Tweet me up @damyantig !

83 comments

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  1. aj vosse

    I believe social media has empowered the coward!
    The amount of hate and rotten filth circulated as “diverse opinion” is staggering! Mostly though, these haters use the relative anonymity of social media to spread their vile toxin… instead of spreading acceptance and tolerance!
    We all breathe, therefore we’re all entitled to our bit of air!

  2. magickmermaid

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion; even if they are wrong 😉 All kidding aside, you bring up excellent points. Compassion and respect for everyone is key. We are more alike than we are different.
    I do not engage in conflict online.

  3. simonfalk28

    Sorry I missed this post before, Damyanti. It is considerate, sane and sensible. I also find it conciliatory for those with divergent views. If I may add a little to the Christian concept of sin, the other side of that dynamic is the strong belief in forgiveness, and in beginning again. That has also been some of my experience of social media too – forgiving and beginning again after a rupture or a hurt. It was why, for a time, I completely left facebook. The way you approach social media is exemplary.

  4. Me Otherwise

    I get what you are saying Damayanti. Social media sure is full of opinions of sorts. I do come across thoughts and ideas of people totally different from mine. But then i have over the course of time learbt to accept that yes people can think diffwrently from me. I politely express mine… And if they take it well and good.. but i never push it over…

  5. chr1

    Well said. I think if you start to lose your ability to see the humanity in others, and to examine your own beliefs and behaviors (be self-critical and take criticism from others) because of your ideas….you probably need new ideas.

    Or the problem may just be you.

    Respect and patience for those who see the world differently is how we learn, and you’d better not lose sight of such truths for very long.

    Social media has many incentives to be as loud, selfish, and righteous as possible. Echo chambers!

  6. Jitendra Mathur

    I endorse your views laid down in this article in totality. Very true Damyanti Ji. We should learn to respect others’ disagreements and also to put forth our different opinions too in a non-offensive and objective manner so that healthy discussions may take place. Hearty thanks and compliments for sharing this invaluable post.

  7. dgkaye

    Great post D! Yes, social media has become explosive in some instances. Most of my friends share the same views as me, and some are on the complete other side of the fence. I don’t engage in conversations where they are volatile and try to hold my political opinions to myself when it comes to social media, after all there are a lot of angry people out there, and as a published author with my business online I know I have to mind what my voice wants to blurt out. In the instances with a few close friends who don’t share my opinions, I don’t wish to lose friendships over so I have stated to them, ‘let’s agree to disagree and leave it at that’ in order to maintain those friendships. 🙂

  8. Library Staff

    Over the course of a day, I meet people with a variety of views and what I tend to do is focus on what we have in common because truth said, we have more in common that not. I would add however, that it’s when we discuss our differences where we learn the most. We all live on this one planet, why can’t we all just get along? Life is just too short as it is!

  9. Mitchell Toews

    Hi! So true – it is hard to disagree without lighting the fuse to conflict and confrontation. On political and religious topics, exponentially so!

    On a softer note – I see it on my writer’s blog and FaceBook where I literally beg for criticism for the stories and excerpts I post or have published. It is slim pickings. Understandable in many ways, but being from a kitchen table where frank dissent was served with every meal, the new mediums seem to lack this, as responders go from reading a post to either silence or – boom! – replying with a virtual death threat in the space of a few clicks.

    My go-to move — a joke — does not always work on soc med and can easily backfire, so I usually just shut up. (Hard to believe, I know.)

    Maybe we need a [] Disagree but don’t want all-out war icon?

  10. siamesesquirrel

    Hi Damyanti!

    I learned something from you. yes it is important to step back and connect on what we have in common rather than the differences that sparked the conversation. I personally think it’s also important to be responsible and take in the truths each of us offer so that we can come into even closer agreement about the real world.

    But I agree with you, it was heartening to see you give advice on staying connected even as we continue to interact on difficult topics.

    All the best for that!

  11. odell01

    Social media remains, I strongly suspect, bigger than what’s going on inside the Oval Office. Other times there have been world events that have dominated social media without making it untenable. For example, the Olympics is an event that is relevant on social media, yet because it is more pleasant than the business in the United States, it doesn’t repel people as much as what’s presently going on certainly does.

    Social media fatigue can require a “vacation” from social media, or less time spent on it. The news, while grim, helps make social media interesting because it is of interest to many others and that helps make it seem like a good idea to stay on.

    The comments for this blog post helped me understand all what it means. For example, Dan Siegel’s Differentiation and Linkage ideas seemed interesting for me, but also unusual. I think it is tied to the idea of various peoples all doing the same thing and taking an interest in the same issues, as on social media (regarding the President of the United States and his decisions).

    On YouTube, if you are signed in, you can actually click the thumbs-down button if you don’t like the subject matter of a particular video. On Facebook and Twitter, you have fewer express options to give someone the idea that you disagree, although with Facebook you can present an “angry” reaction. Both Facebook and Twitter let you comment or reply, so you can try writing your disagreement in straightforward language if you are trying to make a point. It helps if your argument is sound, of course.

    I feel there are many uses for social media, but if you are drawn to the international scope of social media and to the additional idea that you can reach people around the world with your thoughts, that is possibly enough on its own for social media to be rewarding. If you are becoming interesting for people with social media, perhaps you should be directing your readers to a specific website of yours that is potentially of interest to both you and to them. You can help people relate to you better with this strategy. Good luck!

  12. Lata Sunil

    I feel with social media like Twitter, people are being much more vicious than they will be face to face. And there are some accounts who just abuse all and sundry. They get some sort of satisfaction I guess. I generally block abusive handles. As a rule, I do not engage with them. Ignoring them is the best as they want to be noticed. Barring these few people, I enjoy being on Twitter which is a favourite. FB usage is limited but great way to be in touch with people we know.

  13. Ramya

    Interesting post Damayanthi. Really its difficult to express our views in social media. Until iam very strong about my opinion and can give relevant example to my explanation i wont express my opinion on controversial things and politics. Iam very open to understand others feelings without bias but sometimes small opinions also give rise to debates and personal blame in social media.

  14. fenster

    Social media has certainly been a mine field lately. I have found the only way for me to continue being active online is to, like you, step back from certain conversations. I do not have to engage on every post that I disagree with. In most cases, an online argument isn’t going to alter any perspective, but likely will cause damage to a relationship. I speak out if I feel someone is being hateful or cruel, but as for opinions, I scroll right on by, ready to engage in something more constructive. I think I sleep better at night, knowing I don’t have an argument to regret.

  15. Jacqui Murray

    I, like you, have chosen to remain silent until I can determine the forum is welcoming and inclusive. I am shocked how many people post their view and tell anyone who disagrees to leave them alone. I do, permanently. That’s not my world.

  16. Jemima Pett

    Good work, Damyanti. I try to keep my blog apolitical because we all have our own values and beliefs – it’s just most people who seem to like my writing appear to have similar values to mine. But then I see writings from people like Plato on democracy, and the warning signs from our histories being repeated, and I think, this is no time to keep my head in the sand and let people take my rights away from me. This is no time for apathy. Because where the US goes, the UK has followed… for a good while now, and in our current confusion, it’s no time to be following like sheep.
    The real skill is to keep one’s sanity on social media, while questioning, questioning, the validity of claims.
    And be kind to each other, as always.

  17. Wendy

    Oh this is a biggie… Beliefs – we all have our own ‘rose tinted’ glasses and sometimes we need to take them off and put our shoe on the other foot.. You’re so right – we won’t always agree but in most cases we can ‘respect’ our different views. However, with the UK Brexit referendum as my local political example, I stopped responding to the ‘rants and raves’ of others and ‘hid’ a few ‘friends’ who I simply found disagreeable because hey – I can… We all have our own beliefs and with that comes choice as to who we keep in our vision and who we put to one side into our ‘periphery vision’… Silence can sometimes be ‘golden’… A great post! Thank you x

  18. Rajlakshmi

    Lisa Novak’s reply is the kind of understanding we need… I have given up on commenting social media sites because the way people go rabid on each other is scary… It’s like people are waiting for that one different answer and then they just attack. It’s too negative and depressing. I have filtered it out from my timeline.

  19. jazzfeathers

    Beautifully said, Damyanti.
    Sometimes, the internet, the place that many of us see as the quintessential place of freedom, does become a toxic place, mostly – I believe – because we think our freedom is sacred, other people’s freedom is bothersome.
    You know what I think? Freedom without respect, isn’t freedom at all.

    I never say anything online that I wouldn’t say face-to-face, but I do try to be honest every time I decide to say something. Everyone has their own head, history, beliefs and creeds. That’s ok. That’s how we grow. I learned I lot from discussing (sometimes warming up, really) with people who thought very different from me. I actually think these are the best conversations, because they force you to look at things from a different perpective.

    Thanks goodness, we are not all the same!

  20. Peter Nena

    I don’t mind other people’s beliefs and opinions unless they threaten my life. I read writings by and listen to people whose views oppose mine. I have visited sites by the so-called alt-right just to know what the fuss is about and to keep an open mind.

    Social media is an unregulated world. It is what the human society becomes without the governments. It is humanity collectively. It is chaos. It is cruel. It is rich. A place where identities are unknown and all thoughts are unchecked. No laws. No rules. No conscience.
    In a place like that, you can’t just be angry. Only curious. You can’t let yourself be offended by people you don’t even know and will most likely never meet.

  21. Sreesha Diva

    These days, people abuse and tear apart complete strangers just because their beliefs clash. It’s been happening for a while now, and that voice of dissent (on all sides) is growing louder by the minute. I was also happy with the Women’s March; until I saw those pictures, I’d viewed social media as a largely negative space where trolls thrived. The day after the march, I noticed a post on Medium; it was an open letter from the writer to another woman who had opposed the march – much like your friend on Facebook. I felt her (the writer’s) argument was valid (mostly because I supported the march and our beliefs were in sync) and could not imagine why anyone, especially why any woman, would oppose such a march.

    True that we want to hear everyone’s thoughts, for a more rounded view on any given subject. But if people get too forceful about their beliefs or opinions, such that they get completely vile towards the groups that don’t support their views, I simply mute them. I’m not confrontational enough even in real life to tell people if I disagree on a subject, so to do so with complete strangers online is almost incomprehensible to me. Muting them is the best way to go, cos who wants that kind of negativity on their timeline? 🙂

  22. Lisa Nowak

    I’m so glad to see others blogging on this topic, and I appreciate the mention of my post.

    In the past, I’ve avoided speaking about politics on my social media whenever possible. Most of the people I went to school with are conservative, as are half of the people who read one of the series I wrote (it centers around the stock car racing community). One reason for my silence is that I don’t want to alienate friends or customers, and another is that the more extreme members of either party are so quick to judge based on labels. I want to be judged by my words and actions, rather than be written off based on a label.

    Unfortunately, the time has come for me to start speaking out. I don’t intend to argue with people on Facebook, but I do have issues I’d like to blog about. I’m hoping that with calm and patient words, I can be an example to others on how to communicate with empathy and respect.

  23. Neha

    There was a time when people debated on various issues. The debate was fought tooth and nail, but at the end when they parted, though the views had not changed, each was enriched by other’s knowledge. Social media somehow has lost that essence. It’s either my way or the highway. This needs to change.

  24. hilarycustancegreen

    This was a really helpful post, because I am struggling with politics and those who have such different beliefs at the moment. While having none myself, I accept and respect that people have a variety of religious beliefs, but I am baffled that people claim they adhere to, say, Christianity, then support people (such as Trump) who act in ways so contrary to everything Christianity stands for. I like the choir illustration very much and will try and bear it in mind.

  25. alexjrankin

    Excellent piece. I agree with a few people below about not posting anything political on social media. It just serves to reinforce your own point of view without any real meaningful debate, especially when your circle of friends are all posting the same news stories anyway. I tend to use it as you said, for expression and connection with other creative individuals.

  26. pjlazos

    As always, so well said, Damyanti. I, too, have been struggling with how to accept the alt-right view of things as I am very much a centrist, even though to the world in its current state I am probably viewed as a bleeding heart liberal. I am fiscally conservative and socially liberal and I believe in taking care of our planet and the people who live on it. The “love thy neighbor as thyself” thing, it has become increasingly hard in this time of “alt-facts” and I find that as much as I want to have positive discourse with my alternative-viewed brethren, there is very little for what passes as either positive or discourse these days, especially when all criticism, constructive or not, is seen as an attack. We have always been different in America, all of us from different places, time zones, walks of life and ideologies. To promote singular rule (bordering on fascism) in response to what seems like the most unsettled time in our history would be to rewrite history. We’ve never been easy with this democracy thing, and like the settlers in the expansion of the West, things get pretty dicey when we’re all trying to stake our claims especially when those claims overrun each other. But, and it’s a big but, we can’t all claim the same thing and not be willing to live peaceably on that piece of real estate. Still, I think the condition is temporary, even if temporary may be over the course of several years. I see the kids of today, how they are color blind and gender blind and how they don’t seem hell bent on being billionaires, but just on living life and finding the joy. My money is on them. I’m simply going to sit here and hold the dream for them until they are big enough to step into it. Big love to you for holding your dreams. The world is a better place for it. :0)

  27. lexacain

    I’ve fought the anger in social media by not adding to it. I post zero on my wall about politics, racism, religion or sexism. As a professional trying to make my brand about my books and selling them, there’s no reason to drive off potential customers no what what the idiots believe (though I often unfollow those I find too upsetting — I don’t unfriend, I just unfollow). However, if I find others posting about things I believe in, I jump on the train in the comments and have my say! I find trolls rarely waste their time looking through comments to find others to fight with.

    Here’s the problem with accepting others’ beliefs no matter what they are. There are such things as ethics, truth, justice, and compassion. These are not subjective. They are objective. If a group believes in their religion and abides by it, great — as long as they aren’t forcing everyone to believe and accept their ways, and punishing those who don’t. However, groups like ISIS and right-wing conservatives all over the world are trying to force their beliefs on all. These groups are generally led by hypocrites with little knowledge of the things they espouse, or world history, or their “enemies.” They’re power-hungry bullies who don’t let things like scientific facts intrude on their ideas. If one accepts their ideas, one is aligning themselves with injustice — and that leads to inhumane actions and very bad things for all.

    • Denise Covey

      I agree with you, Lexa. I’d have a hard time accepting the beliefs of ISIS or other fundamentalists, Christian included. And extreme right-wingers scare me as it’s often about hatred. I find the FB posts interesting to say the least and am glad people have strong opinions.

  28. Inderpreet

    Yep, I too have the policy of just not commenting or liking political posts, most of them. Definitely not nasty ones. But I did unfriend one person since they were too radical and offensive for me.
    Keep calm and cool is my mantra. No knee jerk reactions.

  29. Glynis Jolly

    Twitter and Google+ seem to carry on a respect for the differences in opinion better than Facebook does. There’s a hostility at Facebook that can make me close my browser and go do something, anything else.

  30. macjam47

    What a beautifully written piece, Damyanti. Lately, I have found social media to be full of conflicting views that at times become outright ugly. Even my brother is joining in with hateful messages when people “like” or agree with something counter to his beliefs which he spouts continuously each day. Friends are posting that they are unfriending friends because of differing beliefs. I’ve seen some pretty nasty comments about the women’s march, about Trump, about Hillary and other politicians, and immigration. Social media seems like a pretty dark place right now. My political advice is and always has been to do your research, know who or what issues you are voting for, and then follow your instincts. I strongly believe in equality, not just for women, but people of all walks of life. I believe in loving one’s neighbors at home and around the world. We all share this beautiful and diverse planet, our home. More and more I find it difficult to check my social media because of the hate some are spewing. I will listen to and respect anyone’s opinion, but I cannot tolerate this ugliness. I don’t want to unfriend people, but until things calm down I will me stepping away from their posts.

  31. reviewsbyruckie

    Great post! I also feel that social media has become a toxic place in the last…five or six months? And while I do not use social media for the purpose that many others seem to be using it for, nor did they, for the last few years…I respect their right to use it as they see fit. I have taken to heavily applying mute and unfollowing people whose viewpoints I find I cannot even come close to appreciating, and I think that has helped me. I have hope that sometime in the near future we can either start respecting each other again, or the discourse will evolve into a more palatable format with some traction for positive change. In the meantime, I definitely sympathize.

  32. Mick Canning

    Very true, Damyanti. It is only through respectful dialogue with those who hold different opinions to ourselves that we learn new points of view and teach others our own. Otherwise no one learns anything, and they simply reinforce their own prejudices.

  33. hilarymb

    Hi Damyanti – I have to agree with everyone who empathises and agrees with you … social media I find quite daunting … because we may have differences, but those should not be made worse … we will all be different, with different ideals etc – yet most of humanity will do what it can do to help others and reach out that hand of peace, humility and forgiveness.

    I just move away at times … it’s the only way … and certainly don’t get involved to be coerced into someone else’s viewpoint – the same as in life … I don’t engage, and I do not want to waste my time.

    There are 7 billion of us – we should be helping each other and sharing … engaging to give that act of kindness, no matter how small, which will never be wasted … communicating and thinking of others is critical at this time. We need to be out there … engaging and learning about all peoples and other parts of the world …

    Thanks for a very enlightening post and with interesting comments – cheers Hilary

  34. Deborah Gregory

    A thoughtful, sensitive and balanced article Damyanti. Great writing too! Last week I joined Twitter, it’s my first experience of social media and so far I haven’t encountered any of the unpleasantness you speak of. Like Annalisa, I also share a tendency to unfollow people with extreme views.

  35. Beat About The Book

    This is one of the most balanced and positive views on social media I’ve come across. I stay away from controversial conversations on social media. The moment I find a conversation turning nasty I stop going there. That is of course not the perfect way to be because the response stays bubbling inside me.

  36. Shilpa Gupte

    Long ago, when I stepped into this world of social media, I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Over time, I got addicted to it, but some time ago realised how much time and energy I was wasting reading other people’s views, which hardly mattered to me in my day to day life. I too believe that we all have our set beliefs based on the life we go through. Our experiences help shape our belief systems and thus should be accepted as a part of us. We may differ in our views/opinions, but we need to accept and respect these and in that lies our maturity as a race. Sadly though, many of us lack that maturity and therefore, it’s best to just stay away from all the debate and mind our own business. Use social media only to stay in touch with people who care about us and understand us better than the others. And, that’s what I do. I use FB and Twitter to share my posts and my art. Nothing more, nothing less. There’s already enough stress in the world and in our life. Why add to it by getting into arguments that are not going to lead us anywhere?

  37. D. Wallace Peach

    You’re right that opinions are really charged right now. I would say, based on the values you outlined above, that we are fairly aligned in our view of human rights. I avoid most political arguements because they’re so toxic. My family is personally impacted by racism and bigotry, by issues related to healthcare, equal pay, childcare affordability, student loan debt, and damage to our environment. So it’s hard not to feel them personally as well as feel empathy for those who are suffering. I feel that speaking up is vital, but for me, social media is no longer an effective venue.

  38. Rachna

    Very balanced views, Damyanti. Personally l feel fatigued and even a bit wary to put in a contrary opinion. Not everyone has the maturity to listen to your point of view. Some of them become very harsh in their rebuttals. It has killed friendships for me. And now my coping mechanism is to cut down on my time on social media and be very cautious with sharing my views.

  39. Kalie Zamierowski

    I have trouble with this. I sometimes get angry. That said, sometimes it’s okay to get angry. I think great injustices are going on right now, and I’d be worried if I weren’t angry about them. I am angry at those who perpetuate and defend them. I’m working on operating from a principle of love: loving the person even if I vehemently disagree with him/her. It is sometimes difficult for me.

  40. Shailaja V

    I’ve had my fill of social media arguments in the last couple of years and this is what I take away from them. I’m a sensitive person which is both a good and bad thing. The good is that it makes me feel compassionate towards others. The bad is that it makes me vulnerable to attacks and outright confrontations. For a long time I struggled to balance the two and now I’ve finally learnt to respectfully distance myself from people I disagree with. In some cases their political or other beliefs can be of a extreme nature and that is when I sever ties with them on social media. My way of respecting their views is to not give them space on my life. This is my way of practicing self care and it has worked wonders. I also believe that it is important for us to speak up for what we believe in but not to browbeat others to agree with you. Trump alone has driven a wedge between me and several people I knew only online and in a way in both sad and grateful for that. Knowing what I do about them can never really excuse their behavior on social media. Again this is their path so I won’t come in their way nor will I stand by the sidelines and cheer them on it. We will diverge on our respective paths and that works for me.

  41. ianscyberspace

    Social media is a powerful tool which should be viewed with care. I personally don’t care what people believe provided they don’t try to enforce their belief system on others, and social media is the place where you get a hint of that tendency. If I find I have a friend whose comments on my page are offensive to my friends that person will no longer be on my page. There is a delete button.

  42. collaredmichael

    I agree with you. It is always good to be able to see others for whom they are. I do not always agree, but then, who said I knew it all? I have friends that support D Trump. They have their reasons. I understand their reasons but can’t understand there ability to not see the whole man. So I avoid offending them and accept them for who they are. Life is too short to promote discord. We can achieve so much more working together!

  43. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC

    YES! Good post, Damyanti.

    I have practically stopped engaging in Social Media to avoid exposure to the cat and dog fights – *especially* with the political sturm and drang in America right now. I keep aware online, but even then, sometimes my stomach turns at the nastiness of the posts as well as the comments.

    Sadly, these days I feel I must totally avoid sites where the author doesn’t at least TRY to remain politically civil, and all who fail to keep the comments clean. I hold my own views strongly – and often fail to understand how others can ring out for injustice, stereotyping, or hatred in any form. But we can disagree without being disagreeable, can’t we?

    There’s enough nastiness coming from the top – I don’t want to feel like the meat in a nastiness sandwich.

    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    https://addandsomuchmore.com/2016/10/09/ten-things-i-do-not-want-in-my-president/

  44. Birgit

    I am tired of people trying to ram their views down my throat. I am actually thinking of my cousin on Facebook who is full throttle for Trump. She is actually married to my cousin but they both are strong supporters of Trump and the stuff she puts on is so disheartening and angersome but, overall, they are nice people which is why I don’t de friend her. I am not for Trump at all and have placed a couple of things on my Facebook page but overall, I try to keep out of it. I love what you wrote and consider it intelligent and thought provoking. I don’t mind what Arlee writes even though I strongly disagree with him. I think because most of us disagree and are dumbfounded when someone intelligent likes Trump we just don’t get it and we can feel our own anger and dismay take over. I think the best way is to stay out of it because some are fervent in their beliefs and do stoop to name calling which then is of no use. With them, why bother.

  45. jan

    I do not respond to despicable name calling by either side of the political spectrum or attacks on the wives and children of politicians. Even though “they” did it doesn’t mean we should too. However I do think it’s important to point out the consequence of dangerous decisions by using personal scenarios. Also if a politician sets him/herself up for ridicule by being grossly offensive or ignorant I think it’s our obligation (I’m an American) to hold them accountable.

  46. Ann Coleman

    Thank you for this post! I get so discouraged at how easily we are frightened of those who view things differently than us, and how all too often, we want people to understand and respect our views without bothering to understand and respect anyone else’s. We all have common ground, if we are willing to find it. And we do need diverse opinions and viewpoints, lest we drown in our own smug sense of superiority. Personally, I find it good to be reminded that I’m not always right from time to time! Thank you for expressing what I have been feeling so eloquently. As for disagreeing on social media: I do it very rarely and very carefully!

  47. tj6james6

    There are only one or two who write political posts whom I will interact with in social media. In fact, I had to filter any posts relating to Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton out of my Facebook feed just to maintain my sanity!
    There are times where I’ll turn off my social media because I become overwhelmed with it all. I’ve gone months without checking in anywhere. That’s not so easy right now because I have volunteer work I do which uses Facebook to keep in touch, rather than email, so I try to keep an eye there just for that stuff.
    When I unplug, I open up a book, take out a deck of cards, crack open a game board, go for a walk, visit with friends and family, and just let the phone or tablet keep dinging because I don’t feel like dealing with the drama that inevitably comes across.
    I have found a HUGE benefit to email and social media though: They allow me to vent my rage, then reread what I said and delete it all without anyone being the wiser, lol. In person my mouth tends to run away and leave my brain behind.

  48. cbecker53

    It’s hard. I have had to unfriend or unfollow a few Facebook friends. Others, I try to disagree with respectfully, or ask questions. Or try to share factual news sites. Sometimes I am afraid that by ignoring or removing those who feel differently I am only staying within my “bubble” and not trying to learn what is going on, and what happened in the election. Somehow we have to try to understand each other, in order to get through this mess. I don’t have a problem with beliefs, so much, as those who choose to “believe” something so clearly refuted by facts and science. I love your example of how the choir singing one note is boring, everybody singing their own song is chaos, but a song sung in harmony is beauty and perfection.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      “Sometimes I am afraid that by ignoring or removing those who feel differently I am only staying within my “bubble” and not trying to learn what is going on,” : yes, echo chambers is what I’m wary of, as well. Unless we know what motivates others, we can take part in the human community. The Harmony example is not mine, but I quoted it here because it seemed apt.

  49. Candy

    Thank you so much for a thoughtful, sensitive perspective. I find it too distressing to hear people denigrate other people’s rights. When there is hate speech on my facebook feed I either unfollow them, or if their posts are completely opposed to those values, I unfriend them. I’d prefer to spend my time with people who believe in human rights, human justice, equality, etc. The activism that has grown to fight an American president who is full of hate, ignorance, narcissism, lies and, frankly, a personality disorder, is encouraging. The response is giving me hope. For people who don’t understand what all the protests are about, I hope that they will inform themselves through real journalism, history, and science.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Fear has taken us over, fear of the other, and fear of our own futures. I hope that the current dark times lead to a period of Renaissance without descending into chaos first. I hope humanity can step back from the brink of violence, and find a way to rebuild itself and the planet.

  50. C. Lee McKenzie

    Unfortunately, I’ve almost dropped out of the social media to avoid the hysteria and misinformation of this election. I don’t mind people voicing their opinions, but I do mind them yelling in my face. What many seem to forget is that the U.S. has a political system that they should be proud of and supporting. Instead they’re allowing the media to run the country and the stampede is ugly and disorganized, not a positive force. Sorry. I think I just vented a bit here. I guess this comment reveals how “drained” the media has made me feel.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Lee, you’re free to vent here at any time.

      At present, the world is witnessing a sort of unraveling: even after I ignore the news, I receive on social media indications of how much the hatred has spread. It is a perfect storm: globalization, technology, freedom of information and internet, an economic downturn, combined with human greed and violence, have all come together to create a situation where the distrust of the ‘other’ has increased exponentially.

      We all need a scapegoat, someone to blame for the current situation.”Others’ with a different belief system or appearance often seem to be that scapegoat. Human memory is pitifully short, as is our ability to read, understand and intuit from history, as well as evolve in order to keep pace with science.

      All we have is a powerful, underrated cure: love. The ability to see the ‘other’ and to find a common factor, and learn to live with the differences. We must somehow find the will, strength and vision to employ that love. Bring it into our hearts for the afraid and the angry and the violent. Not easy, and very, very fatiguing, in virtual life, as well as the real.

      Sending you hugs– may your fatigue be soothed by the love and beauty that find you in the coming months and years.

  51. Annalisa Crawford

    I too read Ali Cross’s thread. I had opinions about it, but didn’t share them. It was her status, she’s entitled to her view. As I writer, I pride myself on being empathetic and seeing lots of different view points – and being able to accept them. I have quietly unfollowed a couple of people that I felt were being to extreme for me, though.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      I did share them, and of course, went on to make several comments. Ali is open to polite and respectful discussion, so it was good all around. I have stepped away from some forums where the views were too extreme for me to respond to, but I’ve kept them on my timeline: I believe in seeing as much of human behavior as possible. Like you, I try to be empathetic and see different viewpoints. When I fail, I try to stay informed.

      I admit that the loudest voices today are not filled with wisdom and perspective, which is why maybe calmer voices need to join in the conversation.

      It is hard to empathize with someone who has diametrically opposite views on what we consider basic human decency– but people who have been sent into anger, fear and hatred, need to be heard, and understood. Not all of them may have gone to an irredeemable extreme, and at the very least, questioning our own views increases our own knowledge, and adds perspective.

  52. talkchatter

    I avoid saying I believe someone is wrong and I always do my best to be polite. If I feel that I can no longer be polite then I walk away. I explain my beliefs, I do not just state them.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Somehow, politeness and decorum seems to be misconstrued as weakness these days. Not sure why dignity and respect are going out of fashion so fast. I always do my best to be polite too: what’s the point in trying to make a point if we insult the people we’re making the point to?

  53. Dan Antion

    I tend to go very slowly with disagreements in social media, mainly because it open. It’s like having a conversation at a social gathering where someone pens word balloons that point to you, with everything you say. I could easily figure out a way to disagree with you, but I might not be able to disagree with someone who is further away from you on a point. Some people just seem to place no limit on how far to take an argument.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Dan, I’m often shocked at the amount of aggression that’s shown on all sides of the divide, through public accounts. People are not shy of trolling with their own profiles, and of course, there are those who create a false account purely to get into fights.

      Human nature is an absolute puzzle, and as a writer, some conversations on social media fascinate me.

  54. Alex J. Cavanaugh (@AlexJCavanaugh)

    I can interact when it is civil, although like you I am more apt to walk away. While I don’t completely agree with Lee, his posts have been civil and non-condemning. I can comment there. Another blogger with the extreme opposite view has been hateful, condemning, and negative. I won’t visit him.
    After 9/11, America was united as a whole. I hope it doesn’t take an alien invasion to unite the world as a whole.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      I walk away when I can’t handle it any more. I try to spend that time reading/ writing or doing something positive with my time.

      With Lee, I realised we have to agree to disagree: I respect his musical tastes, and the initiatives he has taken as a blogger, including the AZ which was very helpful to me with my bloging. But I grew up with science and spirituality, and care too much about my planet and its inhabitants to agree with opinions that run contrary to both. I know his opinions and mine would never match, so I’ll keep listening to what he has to say, but not respond.

      I don’t know if 9/11 united America: it certainly sowed seeds of fear of the ‘other’. Most common humans, unless they’re pushed to the extreme in some way, or left with no other option, are too busy with their lives to think of bringing terror and carnage on others. It is the minority, the ones with agency and power, on both sides of the divide, that cause all the problems.

      Hiding from the ‘other’ will not remain an option once technology comes into its own, and robots, not immigrants, take away human opportunities. Science is evolving too fast and has developed a life of its own– unless we all evolve with it, and relinquish our fear of each other, we would be in no position to survive as a race in the coming century.

  55. ccyager

    What a great post, Damyanti! Thank you. I loved Siegel’s example. In the USA discordance is particularly powerful right now. I’ve been spending far less time on Facebook because I’m just really tired of the ranting, and yet, I respect the right to rant. I respect the right to make mistakes, be right, and be loud, as long as at some point, people listen with respect and do work to understand the points of view of those who disagree with them. I plan to reblog this post on my blog. And will share it with others. Hugs to you my friend.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Thanks for the reblog and share. Yes, we have the right to rant and be loud.

      But somehow tearing down others is not something that often leads to productive results, especially on social media. Maybe our time is better spent organanising and volunteering to make a positive difference in whatever small way we can.

      Hugs to you, as well, Cinda. Take care of you.

  56. Tracy Abell

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. I just spent too much time on Twitter this morning getting angry about Dick Cheney (all over again). My peeve is the normalization of horrible people (Cheney, CIA operatives, John McCain, etc) so that makes me want to avoid Twitter more than usual.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Yes, I think I’ve spent a fair bit of time being angry on social media (and stewing in it because I didn’t write responses). I’ve now learned to breathe, and to check if any of it is a productive (to the world in general) use of my time.

      I think when it comes to our beliefs, our ego becomes involved, and the anger is often not at injustice, but at having our beliefs crossed. I try to read the opposing viewpoint as clearly and dispassionately as possible, as that is the only way to learn anything.

      Sending you hugs and hope you don’t get pushed into an angry-making situation again.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Yes, I feel how you say something is just as important as what you are saying. I always question my own intent when I post something on social media, be it a statement or a comment. If the answer is not blind anger or territorial instincts, I post it.

      I don’t understand why people feel free to say stuff on social media that they would never say in person, when in public. Especially calling other people names, threatening them with violence, or asking them to shut up or disappear. If this is how they behave with strangers, how do they behave with those they know?

      I have blocked trolls on twitter in the past: but a lot of them are reportedly paid trolls, people are apparently paid to be nasty to political opponents on twitter!

        • Damyanti Biswas

          You’re possibly right on this. Anonymity does encourage freedom of thought and expression– which I think is one of the beauties of the internet. But as humans, we have a lot to evolve before we can handle such freedoms with grace. Our mind is a very sharp instrument, and we hurt each other and ourselves with it, because we don’t know any better :).

  57. colorfulbookreviews

    I have had to silence people on my Facebook feed (social media breaks are not an option because I use it for work). Your quote about the choir is excellent. What has helped me is to enforce 24 hours before commenting a negative reaction and get two people to read what I’m saying before I write it. The cool-off and review helps me get my point across without descending into a comment war.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      That’s excellent strategy. I try not to comment anywhere unless I’m in a very calm frame of mind. I have some very vitriolic friends on FB, but I’m keeping them on there because I need to understand how they think, and what makes them do so.

      In the end, we’re all humans, and even if I can’t bring myself to respond to outright lies right away, I eventually do it when I’m able to frame coherent, compassionate responses. All of the vitriol arises from fear, and lack of love for self and others, and I try to keep that in mind.

  58. Joseph E Bird

    which is more challenging, changing the mind, or touching the heart?

    touch the heart, make a friend, have a conversation.

    not a statement with capital letters and periods and sometimes an exclamation point.

    a conversation with pauses and uncertainty and interruptions.

    a conversation.

    • Damyanti Biswas

      Yes, to conversations and hearts. We have lost those arts, perhaps because we have more faceless interactions than ever before. The world is changing too fast, and our personal and social norms have failed to keep pace.