The world is moving fast and I’m living my life in a little town in Ohio paying off student debt. I don’t have time to keep up on every political or national story.
I have some pretty political friends on my Facebook. Some I agree with and some I don’t. Sometimes a friend will post something and I’ll watch the short video or read the paragraph and realize how much exists outside my own perspective. Sometimes, when I disagree, I want to start a discussion. Usually I don’t. I’ll just move on. I’m confident that my view is solid but I don’t feel like proving it at the time. I’m tired from work or maybe it’s a topic I have a strong opinion on but suddenly realize I don’t know a lot about. So I adjust my opinion to a more quiet opinion in the future, remind myself to research later, and keep scrolling.
There was one week… I started getting into comment discussions. I call them discussions because I really try to have a discussion and not a shouting match through the keyboard. I saw a few things I disagreed with and knew something about so I commented and gave my opinion on several posts.
I realized something pretty quickly about this strategy of sharing: it got me worked up for no gain. I got angry and upset over other people’s opinions about politics and news because I thought they were wrong. I didn’t gain anything from that. Well, I gained anxiousness. I was always waiting for someone’s response. Thinking up what they might say back and what I would rebut them with. Constantly checking Facebook notifications and hoping that when they responded I’d have time immediately to give them a healthy dose of reason and logic. But sometimes there would be no response at all and I’d be left waiting for what felt like months (in reality a few days) for that argument that wasn’t coming.
That’s really what had happened to me. When I was responding and commenting on almost everything I had an opinion about, I stopped looking for a discussion and started looking for a fight. It strikes me how easy it is to do that. I have a particular friend on Facebook who I went to school with. She’s a pretty great person and we got along pretty well. She and I have VERY different views on many topics. I don’t post a lot to Facebook about my political views but she tends to share a decent number of posts that reinforce her own views.
We’ve had a few discussions (yes, discussions. We’ve never dissolved into shouting at each other and I really appreciate hearing her thoughts and opinions because she presents herself in a an even-mannered and reasonable way). I think that week I had started something with her and somewhere in the middle of the conversation I just stopped. I looked at what I had been writing to her and it had become more and more angry. I wasn’t in the right mindset to respond anymore so I didn’t. I chose to keep my opinion to myself because I wasn’t prepared to defend it like an adult. I was ready to mudsling and shout and use irrational arguments to make my points.
It’s so easy to look at recent news and immediately have a strong opinion. When you see someone who has a strong, opposite opinion from yours it’s easy to get angry.
“They’re so blind! How can they believe these lies?”
“What a heartless person to agree with this policy!”
“I guess they don’t care about anyone but themselves!”
Part of me just stops caring about the news. Like, it’s just going to make me angry or sad so why bother with it at all? I’m just another uninformed American in the vast sea of the uninformed world. It’s incredibly difficult to keep up to date on everything. You would have to be reading or watching the news constantly then you’d need to do some of your own research to confirm their sources are accurate. That’s like more than a full time job. I don’t know anyone who has time for that.
So most people, I think, tend to stay up to date on a few things. They follow some stories and research some policies and overall know some things generally. Some. Some things. No one can be one hundred percent, fully informed about everything going on in the world.
But you’re usually informed about what you really care about. I study the Bible because I want to know as much as I can about it. It’s my core. I keep up on a lot of pro-life stories because it’s something I believe very strongly in and it’s a core value for me. I like hearing about advances in environmental awareness/care but I don’t always have strong opinions on it so I’m not always investigating each individual change.
Pick your battles. You don’t have to know everything about everything. Be willing to discuss and not yell because many things are connected. Maybe that person who knows a lot about European history is going to shed some light on why a policy you really care about isn’t enforced as well as another one. For the most part, our opinions are just opinions. They’re not going to greatly affect the world at large. If you stay civil you can learn from each other. I’ve never come away from an argument thinking that I understood the other person’s view better but I have come away from a good discussion with more understanding and that’s what really counts.