Just this past week, I spoke with two friends about the current state of the nation. Each of them welled up with tears of hopelessness. These are not wishy-washy women, they a re strong, sturdy women grieving the moral values of our country. Many of us are disturbed and unsettled as anger and hatred, once hidden, rises forcefully to the surface..
My two friends are also on Facebook, which got me thinking. Not everyone can march in protest. Not everyone can go door-to-door canvassing. But on a more personal level, anyone can sit down at their computer, click on Facebook and combat hatred within their circle of influence.
This social media phenomenon originally focused on sharing experiences of joy and sorrow with friends. But it has increasingly become a platform for spewing anger and hatred into the world. Personally, I am especially troubled when good friends, whom I’ve known to be loving, kind, and principled, post vitriolic messages that they would never say in person.
So how can we use social media to foster, good will, peace and unity within our country? First, we can control our reactions. We can withhold our likes and cease responding with encouragement to messages of discord. When someone expresses a viewpoint in opposition to ours, let’s make sure we don’t retaliate with our own equally strident response. In addition, it’s important to educate ourselves concerning Artificial Intelligence messages trying to sway our opinions with false, computer generated information. And of course, we can delete the offensive message from our news feed.
Similarly, when someone with whose philosophy we agree expresses it in a mean-spirited manner, we can withhold our likes, refrain from supportive comments and perhaps un-follow that friend for a month. By refusing to participate in the rhetoric of hatred, we play a role in disempowering it.
Each of us can go one step further by expressing our viewpoint, not in terms of what we don’t want, but firmly and respectfully in terms of the values we do stand for. Day by day, we can each have an impact which, when multiplied with those around us, can ultimately have a widespread, positive effect. In this small way, we can help uplift the national climate one click at a time.