I wrote this in November 2015 in anticipation of a tough political year. Boy was I right! It was true then, it is true now.
Elevate the debate- November 2015
I’ve been pondering at length my own social media use, as well as the role of social media in our culture. I’m saddened by the posts I read on some social media feeds, and I am particularly concerned about the state of political speech. Instead of ranting about what I see others post, I am establishing rules to govern myself when engaging in political discourse on social media. Hopefully you find these interesting (and perhaps will join with me).
I refuse to use a powerful tool like social media only to display the happy moments of my life. I further refuse to avoid anything that might engender thought, controversy or elevated discussion. If social media is the new gathering place of the 21st-century, let’s gather! Let’s talk about the things that are important to our world. Let’s talk about them as if we were face-to-face. Surely we can disagree without being disagreeable. With that said, here are the rules I’m adopting for social media political engagement: (a brief explanation, then an invitation).
Please remember when posting comments to:
1. Talk about ideas not individuals.
2. Seek for and build on common ground.
3. Avoid sarcasm and personal attacks.
4. Don’t try to only persuade someone to think like you do; instead do what you can to understand why they think the way they do.
5. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, nobody is entitled to their own facts. Use trusted, refereed sources.
6. Be open to changing your opinion on issues.
7. Above all, be kind, post/reply as if you were face-to-face. Filter it before you post it!
Social media should be a community of friends, family and colleagues working together to create the best world possible. I am convinced that words have the power to impact our world for good. History shows us this.
I am committed to elevating the discussion, to enhancing the public discourse, even if only in my little corner of the world. I am passionate about the things I believe in. I hope to share what I feel with humility. I hope to learn new things, understand new perspectives, and gain new insights.
So here’s my invitation: If you are ready to see a robust, enlightening political debate on Facebook (in addition to pictures of what your neighbors ate for dinner, how far your friends ran this morning, and pictures of babies—which I love to see too) consider adopting these rules (or your own) for engaging in the social and political issues of our time.
If you ever find me violating my own protocol, feel free to reply by using the #elevatethedebate.I will do the same for you in your comments or replies on my feed. Surely we have the wisdom, patience, kindness and common sense to use social media as a powerful instrument for good–an instrument that does not just reinforce what we already believe in, thus becoming an echo chamber of narcissistic self affirmation, but instead compelling us to elevate the debate, think in new ways and challenge old beliefs.
I believe our best days are ahead of us! I am an optimist! I know we can create a community of social media users who elevate the discussion in a way that brings a spirit of harmony, cooperation and resolve. We can leave competitiveness, ego-clutter and a desire to be right in exchange for a desire to learn, grow and help create the best democracy possible. So here we go friends, let’s #elevatethedebate!
Post election I have seen many friends leave social media, others have run to their political corners and post only that which reinforces their world view. I have also seen some who post only “happy posts.” I’m sympathetic to all of those points of view! In a nation so divided politically as we are I think we need now more than ever platforms to discuss and understand each other. I am confident we can do it one post at a time!