This second view on social media is a guest post by Paul Brown, a best friend of mine since elementary school days. Paul’s views are, unapologetically, his own.
There is a portion of the population who are completely entrenched. There is always that portion regardless of whether you are talking about the President or science or religion or economics or whatever. A small fraction exists on either side that is totally intractable. Realizing that and realizing that I am in fact powerless to influence those people has helped me quite a bit in keeping my peace of mind and in withdrawing substantially from social media. We are powerless because THEY, Those intractable people, must first WANT to find the truth. Until they do none of the methods people use to communicate can persuade them because they believe they already have the truth.
I have come to the conclusion that these people are not the targets for those wanting to reach out and change minds. The targets are the ones outside that group. They are a much larger demographic with which we may have some success, though not without much work.
There are quite literally millions of people that ARE potentially reachable. To concentrate on the much smaller unreachable, intractable group is to invite failure, depression, anxiety and cynicism, just as concentrating on the news gives people a false impression that there has been a massive deterioration of the world’s moral character and that we are in constant peril.
At this point I want to address cynicism. I can come off like a cynic, and of course I am cynical in some respects. But I am not nearly as cynical as I appear to be. No matter my rhetoric, I still cannot stop believing in people, even though I want to quite often. The way I live my life is not great by Christian standards, but everything I do and believe is based on treating people well and that good systems of government, social programs, healthcare etc., will work if given the opportunity. And all of that relies on enough people doing the right thing if they understand the issues involved.
What I think has damaged so many people recently is that those who want not to be cynical or want to be optimistic have seen a whole bunch of walls crash down during this last election. Even many pessimists like myself never really believed that this large of a percentage of our friends, relatives and neighbors could or would gleefully abandon almost every moral tenant they not only claim to have held, but that they have also used to judge others for decades. I think this has been a much harder blow to optimists. It was pretty damaging to me, and I already had a dark view. Unfortunately it lends some credence to the belief that optimists often blind themselves to reality and that recognizing reality for what it is, is not actually cynicism, a belief I contend is valid. And I do realize that is a tough and fine line to walk.
Back to social media. Here is one of the things social media has done to us. I think if most of us were in a crowd, or at a kids football game or an amusement park and we heard someone espousing stupid sounding political bullshit (not bullying someone with it or attacking a person) we would just simply be pissed but ignore it. Probably move away so we wouldn’t have to listen to it. How many people would chime in or confront those people? But on social media not only do we feel empowered to comment on anything all the time, but we have actually been conditioned that if we don’t address it we are complicit. As if everything that is said is now our responsibility to correct to our own viewpoint. I maintain that these differences in viewpoints have always been there, we are just now much more aware of them because of social media and 24-hour news saturation, and having become aware of them, they are now a matter of emergency action when in reality they have always been there. And this detracts from the real enemy, which is the attack on truth across the board and the control of all aspects of the country and it’s systems by powerful, wealthy interests.
What social media has revealed about people’s hearts is really hard to deal with, though. It shows how easy it is to deceive people, even the ones you interact with on a regular basis or think you know well. The platform and the seemingly all-consuming need to use it to comment on everything has exposed people’s dark interior and there is no denying it now. There are however still far more people that are simply deceived by the information they have. At least that is my belief. President Trump didn’t win the election because of his core, he won it because many people didn’t vote because they were truly disgusted with the choices and because some were so disgusted with Hillary Clinton that they were willing to vote for what they considered the lesser of evils. (And because people have been conditioned to two parties for too long.) Many of those people are uncomfortable with what has been going on. I think it’s obvious, though, that the Democrats are also so corrupt and out of touch that they may ruin their possibility for gains in congress. They clearly have learned nothing from the HC debacle and are turning the screws on independents and moderates rather than attempting to reach out and embrace them. They (Democratic leadership) are attacking everything instead of offering solutions that perhaps independents or moderate Republicans could get on board with. They are not taking the high road but the low road. They are doing exactly what they condemned Republicans for doing with Pres. Obama. Which rightfully stokes the fears of Republicans and gives validity to their claims of massive Democratic corruption.
All of this to say, because we are given a voice on social media doesn’t always mean that is the best place to use it. Picking and choosing battles is important too. While social media may have started as a way for grassroots activism to work more quickly, I believe that time has passed. Social media is every bit as powerful as regular media or more so and is now part of the same system that is causing most of the trouble in the world. (BTW, I am not talking about the media system, I am referring to the whole corrupt thing) It is beginning to become like The One Ring in Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings: can you use the devices of the enemy for good? Maybe, but even if it doesn’t subvert you it will likely destroy you in the process.
2 thoughts on “Two Views on Social Media, Part 2”
I spend a lot of time on Facebook (but you [Mike] already knew that). I probably spend too much time and energy responding to those who are absolutely unreachable. I am working at not spending so much time on those people, with one exception: when there are other people in the conversation who I believe ARE reachable. I try to look upon the comments of the unreachable person as giving me an opportunity to reach out to those who are reachable. If it were only the two of us in the conversation, I (hopefully) wouldn’t put nearly as much energy into it. Well, anyway, that’s what I’m working on. Wish me luck.
Good luck, Jim! I think you’re right. Other people are reading and we don’t know how they might be impacted by either no response to a hateful line or argument or a rational, thoughtful response to that hateful line of argument. I agree that sometimes, someone simply needs to speak up for the sake of those “listening.”