Commit Before You Dig in Social Media

Digest this:

“I usually don’t pass on anything reeking of politics (or religion) as, even if I agree with a piece, I’m not interested in ruffling the feathers of family and friends. But this piece in question had me thinking, not along race lines as the article discusses but what it means to the wider scope of humanity. I’m not sure what to think of it, which is why I’m passing this on.” And then a link to an article on Affirmative Action.

First: “I usually don’t get involved.” That’s what the first line means.

Second: “I’m not interested in ruffling…” means, I can’t handle it when I speak my opinion and someone disagrees with me.

Third: The rest of it is non-committal, says nothing really about the article the person is sharing and is so vague that the person has wiggled herself into a hidey-hole, a position of not having to defend anything.

If I were to have written this, it would have gone as follows:

“Here’s the reason why I don’t care for Affirmative Action. Here’s why we have a racial divide.” (assuming said article was why I don’t care for Affirmative Action).

First: No apologies for my opinion.

Second: I’m not asking for anyone else’s opinion on the matter but feel free to give it.

Third: Committed to a position.

Digest this:

“I hate to even be saying this but the Pope’s stalling of bringing in those who have been molesting children is taking too long. I mean, I know he’s busy and maybe there’s a lot who are unjustly being targeted. I mean, the church probably has a lot of things to work out before handing over certain clerics to the authorities. But I really think this should have been handled decades ago. I have really fond memories when my parents took me to church and I never had anyone touch me wrong. But surely a solution can be had here. I just don’t know.” And then a link to an article on the Vatican’s timeline on handling the child abuse scandal.

First: “I hate to even be saying this…” means, I don’t really want to get involved. (So why bring it up).

Second: “I know he’s busy…” means, I’m willing to acknowledge that maybe this issue really isn’t as important as other Vatican business (so why bring it up).

Third: Apologies with bringing up good memories from the past.

Fourth: I’m not really sure what the solution is although I just said it should have been handled decades ago but I clearly have no idea how.

If I were to have written this, it would have gone as follows:

“These pedophiles should have been brought to justice decades ago. Since Pope John Paul II, the Vatican has dragged it’s feet, wishing to maintain a healthy image while ignoring the dragons it keeps in its dungeon. The solution is for an international body unit to demand the hand over of all files on these issues the Vatican maintains and have an outer body, a special prosecutor, handle the situation. No more in-house cleaning. They are incapable.”

First: No apologies.

Second: It’s been going on too long to allow the Vatican to continue the investigation in-house. And clearly, based on the decades long problem, this rings to be true.

Third: Solution presented (right or wrong, the reader can decide).

Fourth: NO APOLOGIES or wishy-washy.

Digest the fact that every day, I (we) see posts on Social Media on politics, religion, race issues, celebrity trials, etc, and the person posting is so in fear of what family, friends or (gasp) strangers think of them, they write with the most non-committal voice. I ask, why bother? If you’re so afraid of what others may think of you, why bother dropping the article in our laps with a, “Well, I’m not sure if I should be saying this and I’d hate to think anyone would take it the wrong way…” Stop. If you’re going to do that, then don’t do it at all. When I see posts like the made up examples above, the image of Frodo Baggins from the Lord of the Rings movies enters my head. That every time he draws his sword he looks like he made a mistake and can’t take it back. Feel free to be a humble Hobbit. But I’d rather see more Rangers mixing it up.

Digest this:

“I’m just going to drop this one right here.” And then the link to the article.

Now if it’s something outrageously funny, so funny the pun of the article describes itself, then this is a perfectly acceptable tagline. Or, if it’s a link to your own article, this is also fine as I suspect your point is made in said article. But if it’s someone else’s article on a hot topic, this is the most non-committal way of presenting it. The comments/replies section of your feed will undoubtedly be filled with “How crazy,” “This is stupid”, “Vote her out of office”, etc. But nothing is solved. The poster and commentators have nothing important to say. It was a waste of everyone’s time.

Perhaps I expect more from Social Media. It took me until around March 2013 to bother with Facebook and it was only because my partner here at Freedom Cocktail kept encouraging me to get on board, use it as a tool to promote our work. So far, it’s been okay here. We have a lot of followers. And our posts tend to be links to articles but with committed positions up front.

Personally, when I see an article that I just can’t help but comment on, I post it and write exactly how I feel about it. Sometimes, just for fun, I use a bit of language needing deciphering, like maybe using song lyrics, encouraging the reader to dig a bit. But I’ll never say, “I shouldn’t be saying this…” because if I shouldn’t, then I shouldn’t be saying it.

Nothing is off topic in this world. I’ll say it again, NOTHING is off topic. There is nothing special about politics or religion that exempts them from criticism. If we can talk about how many men have been in Kim Kardashian, we can talk about anything. There are no taboo subjects only people with taboos. I say, break them whenever you can. Taking people out of their comfort zones is a hobby of mine.

Now it is possible/probable you will have mixed feelings on a subject and wish to get help from others. Then say so. Say what conflicts you. In the made up example above regarding Affirmative Action, it would be quite acceptable to write, “Maybe it was a logical step to force equality in the past but at this juncture, I don’t think we need it anymore. What do you think?” Nothing wrong with this. But note the lack of wishy-washy, the commitment to take a stand that it might have been good before but not now.

Now, it is true that if you commit to a position and link to an article, unless you have less than ten super agreeable friends, someone is bound to refute you. Or, at worse, the whole post will be ignored entirely, only to be brought up in face-to-face conversation at a later time. (I had this experience a few months ago when a friend said she liked my posts unless I was posting my atheist shit again. Hardly a bit of water stayed itself on my duckish back. We had a laugh and a drink. We drank two). But prepare for it. Understand that if you’re going to say something in politics, religion, celebrity trials, the latest Star Wars character, someone will be against you.

My Golden Rule of engaging in hot topics is to be prepared to defend whatever you say. Someone will challenge you. Be ready for it. This is not a license to be rude; on the contrary, replying with facts is your best weapon. If the person on the other end can’t handle it, it’s not your problem. It’s theirs. But again, if it’s important enough for you to share, it is important you have a point and that you can defend it.

And when the inevitable comes, that someone comments they are offended, please feel free to copy and paste the following:

“Being offended or insulted is not the beginning or the end of an argument. I’m still waiting for your point. Please try again.”

It’s raw Christopher Hitchens with my colored pencils filling some in. You might lose someone as a follower/friend but if they come out to try to shame you on your post, shame them back. They started it. And if they can’t handle the fight, they shouldn’t have put on gloves in the first place. They should have just scrolled on to the next Buzzfeed quiz and stayed in happy land, finding out their Lord of the Rings character is Legolas. Here’s the rub for ya. If you keep posting what you like and the stands you’re willing to take, you will weed out friends that maybe weren’t such friends but…BUT, gain the company of people of like minds. In the end, you could be happier. I’ve had the pleasure of total strangers friending me on Facebook, following on Twitter, because of a post that was controversial but found to be agreeable to that person. World wide.

The goal of this essay is to get you to speak out and write/say whatever you really think. And if you are not interested in getting a little heated, then don’t do it at all. Don’t bother sharing articles on hot topics. Just keep on sharing YouTube videos of dads singing “Let It Go” with their daughters. If nothing is solved and no position taken when sharing articles of significance, then what’s the point? So instead of being wishy-washy when passing on articles of volcanic proportions, take a stand. And if you have no stand, feel free to just say so. But please, please, please, stop with the “I probably shouldn’t…” because if you probably shouldn’t, then don’t.

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