When it comes to society and culture, sometimes my day ends more burdened than others. Other days, I don’t give Twitter or Facebook a thought. But on the former days, it affects me. Social media is one of the worst things about society. We can acknowledge the good things its done and appreciate this, while also recognizing it’s a bad habit. Recently there’s this trend I’ve been seeing which is for social media account holders to scold followers for the comments they leave. This got me thinking, where can society have conversation? How does social media promote conversation?
Here’s the thing, this isn’t a one size fits all thing. This we know because people are mean. People leave mean comments. But I wanted to take a look at this and try to write thoughts on a page. Here’s two responses I see from account holders upset over comments that disagree.
THIS ISN’T A DEBATE PAGE
This, in many cases, is probably a fair argument. However, if you leave any post with a question, whether debate or not, or just a “hot take,” you are inviting responses. Perhaps you don’t want them to be a debate, and maybe that’s not the right phrase, but you’re going to receive replies, even some that differ from yours.
THIS IS MY PAGE; YOU FOLLOW TO KNOW WHAT I THINK (GO START YOUR OWN!)
Again, this too has weight. It’s true, someone’s page IS their own and they start it as a place to share their thoughts. However, again, if you want to protect your “peace,” maybe social media isn’t the place to share your thoughts. If you take this approach, then you aren’t understanding social media’s impact on culture, society and people. It has inspired, if possible, more entitlement. We in an era where you cannot have a public page sharing your grievances but expect only echoed responses.🖋️💻TODAY'S CULTURE: WHEN AND WHERE IS CIVIL DISCOURSE PERMISSILBE?💻🖋️ MORE #SOCIALMEDIA THOUGHTS ABOUT CONVERSATION. #INSTAGRAM #TWITTER #COMMENTS #LIKES #DISCUSSION #CULTURE Click To Tweet
Sometimes comments are either constructive criticism or a good faith argument that happens to disagree. If it’s the former, it hurts, yes, but it’s not bad. If it’s the latter, we should, in most cases, welcome this. Again, like I say, this doesn’t apply to everything because there are some things you cannot waver on if it’s truth. However, if the person leaving a comment is also coming from the same place as you when you created a thread for your “hot take,” doesn’t it deserve a reply? Or at the very least, it doesn’t deserve a rant about them.
Not long ago, there was a quote I heard that made an impact.
It comes from a TV show. To set the scene, it takes place on Blue Bloods between NYC’s top cop, police commissioner Reagan (played by Tom Selleck) and his deputy chief, Garrett. The two argue frequently given both have a different life viewpoint, though Garrett’s primary job is to ensure Frank has the best media defense. In this episode, the two fight over the best way to handle a situation. When Frank remedies the problem with a solution against the advice Garrett gives, he is, understandably, upset. The two bicker a bit back and forth when he confronts Frank where, to his credit, Frank tells him that he couldn’t do this job without him and ends, saying:
“Along the way, I needed our fight to hone my position.”
I think this response is good to remember. It’s not that any difference will ever end with either person changing their mind, but sometimes it does teach us something.
Sometimes it teaches us more about why our argument holds up. Sometimes it teaches us how to have conversations with others. Whatever the end result is, we can, if we want to, learn from the experience.
Another argument I see is that we have to seek other perspectives, otherwise we create an “echo chamber.” This is favorite reasoning for people who say social media is essential to make a difference. The problem with this argument is, when you scold followers, you too are creating an echo chamber on your page. You’re telling us that we need social media to make arguments or a difference, but also scolding people for what they say. Standing up for yourself against one unproductive commenter or DM, doesn’t require scolding everyone who disagrees with your content.
But isn’t it also strange to be upset about this? To say nothing of expecting agreement. Sure we can keep scrolling and some of us do. But if the comment is one that’s a question or maybe even challenging your conclusion in a productive way, why not welcome this? I get the feeling of being weary. I too am social media weary. However, the idea that you want everyone to comment in some format of agreement is as unreasonable, albeit in a different way, as name-calling comments.
If we are told that social media is a place to be and we need to be there, but are simultaneously scolded for comments, then the question becomes, where can we have conversation?
If you’re looking for everyone to only post an applause or fire emoji, or “go off girl!” then you’re not accepting reality. We live in a world where social media gives millions a voice to tell the world their thoughts. I don’t envy public figures who are frequent recipients of a ridiculous DM. However, the idea that compliments is the only acceptable reaction suggests you’re looking for a kind of utopia that you’ll be perpetually searching for.
What do you think about this topic? Do you agree or disagree? What is your perspective on accounts that put out this narrative? How do you feel about social media? Does social media promote conversation? Leave all of your thoughts in the comment section. Let’s talk.
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