Everyone speaks about the internet as this great connector. And it is. Never before have we been able to learn so much, do so much, and interact with each other so much.
But what about the ill effects of the internet? What about the online bullying, the harassment, the divisions, and the vitriol that is spewed every single day? What about that? What does that do to us?
This year, in particular, has been especially rife with anger already. In an election year that has shown how deeply divided we are, both across party lines and within our own parties, it's clear that kindness has been lost. We fight, we argue, we disagree. We believe in our candidate and one else.
It seems we've lost our way. It seems we can't have a disagreement without it turning into a brawl. It seems having a thought-out, passionate discussion with someone who has a differing view is something we can't do anymore. We feel one way. They feel another. And there is no going back from there. There is no fixing that. We say, "This is my opinion. You're wrong and I'm right." There are no shades of grey anymore. Their view doesn't matter. Ours is the only one that counts.
We have our platforms that give is the chance to speak. We have our Facebook. We have our Twitter. We have our blogs. And upon these pulpits, we can tell the world what we think. But we only want to hear what anyone else thinks if it falls in line with us. This finds itself in both liberal and conservative opinions. Agree with me, or get out. That's the mantra of today.
I am asking us to find a way into the middle. I want to throw out an idea that maybe the divisions don't have to be so divisive. That maybe we can find a way to sit down and not have it turn to yelling. Is there a way for us to find a common ground? Is there a way for us to understand where our fellow person is coming from? How can we solve anything if we won't listen? How can the world change if we aren't willing to listen to others?
I think it starts with kindness, as crunchy as that may sound. It starts with understanding all the pieces that make up the person sitting next to us. They may come from somewhere else. They may have had it harder than you, or easier than you. They may have a different religion than you. But if we can understand them, take the time to get to know them, then maybe some good can come of it. Your conservative friend, he's not always against everything you are and everything you believe. And your liberal friend, maybe she has the same wishes and dreams that you do. There is so much more to a person than their political leanings.
We bully people because it's easy. We call people out because it makes us feel stronger. But maybe we sit down, talk it out, and try to find a common ground. Because if not, the divisions are only going to grow deeper. And the listening will stop, progress will stop, and nothing will get done.