Hold on tight, this is going to be a rant. Likely, this is going to be offensive to someone, but it's been bothering me for awhile, so I am going to get it out of my system.
Social Media makes it really easy to be very opinionated. There is nothing wrong with being opinionated or expressing yourself. I'm very opinionated, especially with regard to movies. Don't get me started on the new Tron or Moulin Rouge.
However, I think along with expression, comes a responsibility to be careful about what you say and to think about why you feel the need to express certain opinions, especially when they involve hot button topics.
When people become vocal on Social Media, they have the protection of creating their argumentation from a desk. They're not making eye contact with the person that they are trying to sway or with whom they are in the midst of a heated debate. This scenario tends to up the ante and make the entire situation escalate rapidly, becoming volatile. This is especially true, when the argument is amongst strangers. People become embolden to switch from sound argumentation to hateful words, when they don't actually know who their conversing with and will never have to confront this person face-to-face.
I have several friends who fall into this category. Friends, if you are reading this, yes, I may be talking about you, but likely not. This is a handful of people, not a certain person. A handful of otherwise good people, who turn into jerks when certain topics arise. Jerks who cowardly hide behind their computers and angrily spew hateful arguments. Often not so much arguments, but snide one-liners.
This happens a lot with political discussions, but seems to be with a greater frequency with regard to religion. It's a two way street. I have friends who are atheist and friends of various faiths who are deeply devout, expending energy on social media tearing down someone with opposite views.
I've noticed this more on Facebook as my newsfeed sends me information on my friend's activities. Frankly, activities I'd rather not know about, because sometimes seeing their comments on other pages makes me think less of them.
They come across as immature, uneducated and angry. I don't think these people are these things, but this is the image that they are projecting.
The funniest offensive line of commenting I've seen is the "You're a Sheep" comments. Christian friends use it to describe atheists who get caught up in their own rhetoric. Atheists use it to describe people following organized religions. I think all of these people who keep using the "You're a Sheep" phrasing are sheep. They are so caught up in their own preconceived ideas that they can't hold a real conversation with someone who might have an opposing view point.
I apologize for any sheep that I may have just offended. The actual animals, not the behavior.
I am sick of atheist friends likening all Christians to Fred Phelps and the Westboro Church. I am sick of Christian friends lecturing on what they consider sinful behavior. I am sick of both sides acting superior to the other. It's not a contest to see who can shout louder or be more obnoxious.
Again, this is a small handful of people and they happen to be people that I generally like. They're on my friend's list for a reason. I try not to engage them on these hot-button topics, because I think their need to belittle a belief that is different from their own comes from a place of anger and a need to feel superior.
Most of my friends who are deeply religious or not religious at all, tend to get along quite well and are respectful of the differences in beliefs. This is the same for my friends with ideologies across the political spectrum. I appreciate them and love that they don't engage in the negativity.
It's okay to have different beliefs. It's also okay to have conversations regarding these differences. These conversations can be impassioned without becoming disrespectful. Honestly, if there is any hope to sway a persons belief or opinion, it's certainly not through bad behavior. People stop listening when the level of respect slides.
I am just tired of the comments and the negativity. I am tired of seeing offensive posts, often accompanied with a picture or cartoon. I think people should take a pause to think about what they are posting and why they are posting it. If it's just to be a jerk, then it's probably best kept private. If you have an important opinion that you wish to communicate, do it respectfully.
Let's make the world a kinder place. Please refrain from being a jerk.