Anti-Social Networking

facebook-dislike-2-300x200I’m one of those people who are constantly cleaning up and organizing. No matter what my wife says, I do like things orderly. I just don’t like housework… But when it comes to keeping my social networking accounts in order, I’m on that shit almost daily.

Sometimes it’s a wonderful thing to be exposed to varied and diverse opinions and experiences but when it comes to politics, religion, and cultural issues, I refuse to argue or deal with uninformed people or those who seem to only deal in extremes. Because life is too short and so is my fuse, I will unfollow, unfriend, or block folks with little deliberation and very rarely any second thoughts.

I know what you’re thinking. “But diversity of thought is a good thing! We need to learn from each other’s experiences!” For many things, I agree with that. But I’m not ever going to change someone’s mind when that person has no desire to learn about the experiences of those who don’t look or live like they do and I refuse to waste my time and energy trying. There was a time when I would debate and offer fact-based evidence to those folks who were misguided, confused, uninformed, or unaware but I just don’t have the energy for trying to change minds when there’s no desire to understand. I’m happy to listen and try to understand the views and teachings of those who I don’t agree with and have been enlightened many times when I had the wrong understanding. I’m open to conversation but as soon as it becomes clear that someone has no desire to actually discuss and teach and learn from the encounter but is, instead, interested in simply repeating the same talking points over and over, I’m done.

I am done with reading posts that criticize protesters when the authors of those missives have very likely never felt violated or outraged enough to actually participate as one. And I’m done reading posts calling for balanced discussions when it’s clear that the authors are incredibly biased, themselves, but don’t seem to recognize it. Discussions have to include facts on both sides but blanket statements about how not all of one group will act in a certain way don’t say anything of value. All men don’t rape but that doesn’t lessen the effect of the act on the victims of those that do or mean that we don’t need to work toward eliminating it.

I also won’t even finish reading posts that begin with something along the lines of “Cop Haters Should Unfriend Me” because I’m too busy unfriending them. Not because I hate cops but because I don’t know anyone who hates cops as a whole. I know many, many people who are upset with the current system and culture that we live under where people of color are seen to be suspicious and killed or seriously wounded by police at much higher rates than whites. I know people who are frustrated and sad and angry that there are police officers who are quick to pull triggers or don’t follow correct procedures and appear to be subjected to no disciplinary actions. But I don’t know anyone who hates all police and using language that implies that questioning the events and outcomes of the past several months (years?) is tantamount to cop hating seems to beg for posts supporting police and the “not all police are bad” replies. Those posts, to me, are meaningless because no one has ever said that all police are bad and the “they put their lives on the line and we need to be grateful!” replies take away the ability for people to calmly and rationally deal with the reality that, while the vast majority of police are awesome, caring people who want to help others, there are some who shouldn’t have a gun or authority over anyone. Ever.

We need open and honest discussion, not baiting people to complement the police or condemn the protesters without thought of what actually needs to be done to fix our broken system. Without simply acknowledging that people of color, as a whole, ARE seen differently by police – and our society in general – and accepting that White Privilege really is a thing, there will be more beatings and killings of innocent people of color and there will be more violent protests and there will be more division in our communities.

So, if there are posts by people who truly want to engage in a discussion about our broken system and what can be done by us – actual work in our communities to engage with police and local governments to effect real change – I’m there. I’m not wasting my time on the rest anymore. It’s pointless and divisive and doesn’t do a thing to address the real underlying problems with our justice system or American culture in general.

So there.

4 thoughts on “Anti-Social Networking

  • December 18, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I completely agree with you, Cheri. I take a lot of hits trying to say the police profession needs to do some serious assessing, but also try reigning in the uniformed folks only out to fan the flames. Dialogs are hard when the issues are so personal and important, but I think we have to try. My friend who runs Equality FL, a social justice organization and I have decided that when we feel triggered, we will take a breath and focus on what we know in each others hearts. We don’t have to always agree, but we will maintain respect. I will say that, although you may not have seen them, there are absolutely sites that condone violence against law enforcement right now. One of them has one million likes. That makes everyone less safe. That’s why I’m trying to be a balanced in my approach to call for toning down on both sides so that we might actually take this moment in our history and forge a better future. Thanks for your perspective, my friend.

  • December 18, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Very well stated. I must admit, it has been hard for me to see things from the point-of-view of the police and it has been hard for me to view them in a positive light in recent years. After your kid gets arrested and beaten by them for peacefully protesting (as mine was in OWS), it’s just so hard not to paint the entire group with one broad stroke. But I’m willing to listen and willing to keep an open mind. Thanks for your post. It has given me something to think about.

  • December 18, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Well said! In the age of the Straw Man, dialogue seems to be something of the past.

Comment if you want. You know, no pressure.

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