I've been un-friending and un-following a lot recently, and it's not exactly as one might think.
While I lean to the liberal end of the spectrum and am definitely not pro-Trump, I have tried to keep people in my social media circle who think differently than me. I understand that not everyone who disagrees with me is necessarily "less than".
If I surround myself with people who think just like me, I'll never be challenged. And if I'm never challenged, I'll never grow. So I like diversity of thought, even if I disagree with another's premise completely.
However, recently I have had to get rid of a few people on Facebook and Twitter. Name-calling and vulgar language is not the energy I want in my life. So when I see vitriol and intolerance on either side, I block. Period.
Here are some simple tips I'm finding helpful to navigate social media in a Trumpian universe:
- Only post from reputable sites. If it's a 100% right- or left-wing leaning news site I usually skip right over. I try to only post from more bi-partisan sites but occasionally I will post from MSNBC or Fox if I think it solid information or provocative and perhaps useful.
- If a social media friend gets hostile or offensive, I try not to call them out in public. I use private message and ask them to clarify. I find that a better way to engage as no one enjoys a public scolding.
- Refrain from name-calling. It's easy to default to stereotyping people to "narrow-minded bigot" or "jigsaw liberal" (both epithets I saw recently online). I don't like to be demeaned so try not to demean others.
- Hold your ground--but in a more reserved way. If a post is open to discussion or debate, rebut with facts, not feelings. Emotion does not translate very well over the internet. I also never know with what kind of voice a person is reading my posts so I try to be less passionate and more factual. I also try to refrain from ALL CAPS and EXCLAMATION POINTS!!! It's just annoying, and makes me feel like I'm being lectured.
- Assume nothing. When in doubt, ask "What do you mean by that?" Sometimes I jump to conclusions that the writer isn't intending. This happened recently with a friend who voted for Trump. I asked her to clarify why she believed the way she did. I also stated at the same time that I think she has integrity so I genuinely want to know and understand. Guess what? She replied with her reasoning. I still didn't agree, but I did leave our encounter with a better understanding of her point of view. We also retained our warm rapport.
I'd like to think that things are going to cool down politically, but I highly doubt it. So it's incumbent upon me to do my part in standing for justice and truth--as I see it--while still being polite to my neighbor. After all, we need more kindness in the world. I really think that's what could pull us through these very difficult, divisive times.