Monday 1 August 2016

Poking and Politics

I've seen a number of posts floating around, talking about not losing friends over differences in political beliefs, and I think that's a healthy attitude to have. It's certainly not necessary to agree on everything to be friends--in fact, I think we often learn our most profound lessons from engaging with each other across divides in experience and perspective, and those divides can run deep sometimes. 

Social media is a different matter, though. There's a lovely sort of magic in being able to be in contact with people who've shared passing IRL encounters with us and allow space for a genuine affinity to grow. I've had many beautiful friendships grow thanks to years of communication over this worldwide web. There are people I primarily stay in contact with online who are truly friends and enhance my experience of life every day. 

But, a Facebook friend request does not a friendship make. It takes more than that. The deeper understanding and love that smoothes over disagreements is not necessarily there just because a network shows a connection. The blessing and curse of social media linkages is that they are potentially vast and superficial. 

That said--I find myself editing out people that comport themselves in certain ways online. People that use their digital presence to spread hatred. People who fixate on poison and spew it back out. People actively seeking out rage porn, amplifying the unthinking rage that's cynically stirred up by the nastiest types of demagogues. People resolutely buying timeshares in the post-factual economy. 

I actually think you can believe almost anything politically and present it in a reasonable way. That's how dialogue happens. Most people are not, in fact, crazy--they feel things for a reason. We all get excited about ideas and moments, and I think there's tremendous power in sharing the positives about what moves us. And, I admit, my patience has grown extraordinarily thin with the alternative. 

We're not all going to be sitting around a virtual campfire singing "Kumbaya" hand-in-hand anytime soon. We all have our bubbles, echo chambers and moments of preaching to the choir. But, we can all do our little part to tamp down on the hysteria that compulsive negativity breeds. It's more powerful to run toward something than to live in fear and constantly be fleeing bogeymen.


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