Nobody needs to tell you that Facebook has become one of the many sources for connecting to the outside world. From keeping in touch with family and friends, sharing your life highlights to gaining information on current affairs and sharing cute animal videos; whatever you're searching for, you'll find it. While it's convenient that communication has been streamlined and we are all more connected now than ever, Facebook can sometimes bring out the worst in people. The more I observe, the more I notice our inability to efficiently communicate. A pattern I've noticed for a while—and can no longer ignore—is whenever a national or international tragic event happens, it tends to divide us more than unite us. Ties are severed over opposing views and as a result, we become bitter, angry people and are left wondering what the hell went wrong.
The Paris attacks were a prime example. I cannot tell you how many arguments took place between people who changed their profile picture to France's flag colors versus the people who didn't. The topic of selective grief from our media was the root cause for most who decided not to partake in implementing the color change. While I understand the uproar about this issue and am well aware of the seriousness of it, I was really saddened to see how people addressed the matter with each other. There was so much sarcasm, passive aggressiveness and hurtful retorts within these conversations that the original topic of discussion would get lost in translation and the end result became a power struggle of who had better refutes. The problem is nobody listens; I'm not talking about selectively listening, I mean really listening. There's no productive dialog because people are not given the chance to explain their perspective before being confronted with criticism. Instead of coming together and showing compassion for our fellow human, we carelessly divide ourselves further.
If we want others to consider our point-of-view, being passive aggressive or argumentative about our opinions is counter-productive. We must learn to stop preemptively judging each other if we want meaningful discussions. It's beneficial to gather perspective from people who don't always share the same views because it shapes us into well-rounded people. Healthy debates should always been encouraged, but don't force your opinion on someone because you think they've been misguided. Sometimes people have had life experiences that shape the way they view the world and certain issues. Give them a chance to speak because you might end up finding value in what they share. There are also people who are unaware or haven't been briefed on certain worldly events and because of it their actions may come off as offensive or ignorant. Instead of writing them off and chalking it up to stupidity, why not take that chance to create a productive dialog by educating them on the issues at hand?
I'm definitely guilty of having many moments where heated talks with people I care about didn't end well. Pride is a difficult pill to swallow and it's an unfortunate life lesson when bridges are unnecessarily burned. Sometimes peace is better than being right; choose your battles wisely. After having one too many incidents of fighting needless battles, I've found it's best to set up boundaries and always be respectful in discussions with people who hold opposing views, especially friends and family members. Does it still get heated? Yes, sometimes. Do I get frustrated? Of course I do. But the difference is that no one results to name-calling, sarcastic side comments or vilifying the other person's character because they don't share the same viewpoint. As soon as the conversation becomes unproductive, we let it go and move on. There will always be those few exceptions who are just openly hateful and unwilling to engage in a respectful manner. If you come across those types, then by all means, cut ties if you have no other choice. The last thing we need is more negativity in the world so let's stop being so damn prideful and learn to genuinely listen and communicate. If we are more receptive and kind, imagine what we can accomplish together.