An interesting phenomenon has taken root on my social media platforms.
Unfriending of dissonance.
For the past year or so, the frequency of friends laying claim to unfriending or unfollowing individuals due to their different opinions has increased ten fold.
And I’ll be honest, it’s unsettling to me.
I have many friends on my platforms that are staunch conservatives who believe that Christian values must guide policy. I have friends who are Log Cabin Republicans who say the LGBT identity is fine but same-sex marriage is wrong. I have friends who are broad Libertarians who are fighting for their candidate to even get recognized. I have people who are very much liberal and are fighting for gun control in fear for their loved one’s lives.
At some points I’ve felt that at times my liberal friends, who I align with most, are so liberal they become exclusive, elitist and conservatively liberal (meaning if someone doesn’t agree with their liberal views then they are not valid citizens or even human beings and treat them as such). And other times, I’ve witnessed conservative friends who are more liberal in certain situations or issues be tossed out and told to go Democrat or Third-Party because they don’t fit the “mold” of the Conservative Party.
Through all this, I don’t see how we learn, grow or develop if we cannot be challenged or be able to sit in uncomfortable space. At what point do we become so entrenched in our views and opinions that we can’t respect a differing opinion or view? That we can’t stand someone sharing their views just as much as we are on social media platforms? We don’t have to like the view or opinion. We can support our issues and positions without degrading others who are different than us in thought.
I just find it absolutely baffling that we get so entrenched in “being right” and making “everyone agree and believe the same thing as me” that we can no longer sit in community with those who are different than us.
The answer is not to rid your platforms of dissonance. The answer is not dismissing and ignoring the uncomfortable conversations or view or opinions.
The answer is to work to understand them. To get to their “why”. It is to talk about them. It is to respect one another as human beings who have different views. It is to learn, grow and develop. And ultimately to allow one another to be who we are and to learn to live together despite our differences.
As Student Affairs Professionals, I believe that we are in a unique position to example this type of work. From our education, our work and our frames of mind, we have everything we need to example this.
As Student Affairs Professionals we are failing at this challenge set before us.
So as the political season begins to ramp up and even after with all the other issues we handle on an everyday basis, how are you going to example having your own thoughts and perspectives that are different from those around you without dismissing or deleting them from your life? How are you going to work to understand their views; to not dismiss their perspectives, because their passion is just as high as your own with your shares, likes and posts on social media? How are you going to example community building in times of dissonance and not just unfriend or unfollow them because they have different opinions, views and beliefs?
If we keep isolating ourselves in communities that only think the same way as we do, then we won’t grow, we won’t learn, we won’t develop and we won’t be able to make progress or make the world a better place.
I’ve learned and grown a lot from those on my platforms who push back on my views, opinions and perspectives. It forces me to not only look at my own views and why, but theirs as well. We normally end up agreeing to disagree and respect our perspectives but I think each time we leave the conversation with a more well rounded Large Picture View.
I’m proud that I’ve never unfriended or unfollowed someone for their stances, socially, politically etc. Only once have I unfriended someone from my platform, and that was when they came after me personally and began to threaten my life.
But I accredit my ability of understanding and tolerance to the amount of learning and developing I’ve done because I have such a vast array or views and perspectives in my life and on my platforms.
So I challenge you to not “purify” your platforms but rather take advantage of the differences to learn, grow and develop.
Just what’s on my mind this morning after the last week’s Presidential Debate, last night’s VP Debate and the aftermath of my social media after each.
And if I may have a moment of fun and to end my post on a lighter note…I think my favorite GIF from my tweets last night was this:
Until next time
Peace, Love and Pandas!