Good afternoon, friends! It has been a SUPER eventful week around here. Between the Google Summit (which, I suppose I'll stop talking about eventually), national news, and my dad using the crying-laughing cat emoji in a group text, a lot has been happening.
From the title of the blog, I'm sure you can presume that I won't be discussing Dad's emoji usage. There is no hate for that, certainly. But I won't really be talking about what you may think, either.
In the last several weeks, specifically, but really for the past few months I have been overwhelmed on social media and in real life conversations with people by just the most awful things being said, shared, and "amen-ed." I don't mean that I see someone's opinion on Facebook which I disagree with and decide that person is being hateful; I mean like, real, unabashed hate-spewing. You've seen it too, I'm sure.
Having had multiple real-life conversations with people who are like-minded, and have been equally as horrified, the consensus is often, "freaking West Texas, man." And while I acknowledge that the place I've made home is filled with some of the people who often say, think, and post the same awful content, I don't think that's the crux of the issue. It's not a West Texas problem. It's everywhere.
I think that the ability to speak one's mind freely is a vitally important skill. But I call it a skill on purpose. I remember being in high school and getting so angry when a boy I was dating would say something rude and follow it with, "Hey, I'm just being honest!" While the two ideas aren't always mutually exclusive, they're not synonymous either.
I tell that joyful tale from childhood to say this: my developing an opinion about something is fantastic. My ability to access a platform to share it: also great. If I show little to no restraint, forethought, or maturity in the communication of my opinions, then I am part of the greater problem. Claiming that honesty, heritage, or biblical truth allows me the latitude to communicate my beliefs in whatever kind of hateful form I choose is a mismanagement of the ability to communicate my beliefs and opinions.
I don't know a way to magically make everyone get along; but I do know that shouting, and ostracizing, and excluding whole groups of people from the safety of my Facebook isn't it.
I'm going to pause here to say this: my intent is not to add to the countless people online shouting their opinions over everyone else's. In fact my voice, comparatively, is pretty small. My goal is not to agitate or call out any one person or group specifically. If I'm doing a poor job of communicating my point, forgive me.
This post isn't about just what's been happening over the last few weeks. It's not about just one group of people. I see a trend where the most hateful voices, regardless of their viewpoint are the most heard, shared, and validated.
As a teacher of young people, and also as a human being, this troubles me deeply.
I tell my students each year, at the very beginning, and then annoyingly often throughout, that the reason it's important for them to sit in my English class--to read and learn and care about things that they're reading and learning about; to make improvements in their ability to read and write and communicate thoughtfully--the reason for all of it is because if they don't learn to do these things, then they are going to have to allow someone else to think, and process, and problem-solve, and communicate for them. And if we learn nothing else from the things we read and analyze, it's that no one can think for you and do you justice.
The ability to develop those skills and use them responsibly is our obligation as thoughtful, educated people. Not just my 14-year-olds, but all of us. The reaction to things happening in our country and around the world makes me question if we're using the ability to speak for ourselves responsibly; I wonder if we're being peace-makers, or people who love people even if we think that what they think is crazy.
So, I haven't given up on Facebook, yet. I'm scrolling past the hatefulness instead of shouting back. I just worry if that's enough. If I shouldn't be using my voice to speak to the excluded, and the shouted at, so they know we're not all drawing lines in the sand.
What do you think? Email me, or leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.
Lastly, this is maybe not the best post to do it, but if you weren't prompted when you got to the site to subscribe to the email list, you can do that below. In addition to just being shameless self-promotion, I have had actual conversations with people who said they'd like an update on when there's a new blog post, even when I don't post it on social media. So, here ya go:
Love y'all. Hope I show it.