A few times this week, people I know on social media posted, yet requested no debate or opinionated comment. Two of those posters are people I highly respect – the other two are missing some chicken nuggets from their Happy Meal. For anyone reading my thoughts, you undoubtedly know in which camp your are setting up tent. I agreed with 2 of the posts in entirety, but felt a twinge of discomfort at the cacophony of backslaps and agreement. Normal life is filled with disparate voices, sometimes talking over one another. Social media is the same, albeit with an unnatural time-lapse. I’m very accustomed to people disagreeing wildly with my views and relish it when people wittily and intelligently tear my ideas apart. If we all are open to honest critiques, we are more likely to continue to believe less stupid nonsense.
Social media, especially Facebook, relies on the exchange of ideas, even stupid ones. If you aren’t looking for debate, commentary, or critique, use another social media or try to be more accepting of how it works. “That’s not how any of this works” from a current insurance commercial conveys exactly the admonition to avoid attempting to have it both ways with social media. If you post, you must welcome the risky proposition that people will disagree. Otherwise, the “social” is absent from the communication – it becomes a monologue instead of a dialogue. (A blog is more aligned with “no criticism, please” status updates.)
Demanding no debate is considered to be code for “don’t disagree with me.” If you don’t believe me, review several posts which request no debate or contrary opinion. There are usually dozens of complimentary comments. That voice of agreement creates an echo chamber wherein people stop saying anything substantive and all the voices are in unison. It foments silence, both from the idiots and those who have contradictory input and experience. It’s easier to delete excessive negativity and limit the audience of posts than it is to risk avoiding the spirited exchange of ideas. If people are abusive, limit their view of your posts, unfriend, unfollow, or block them. But as in real life, you normally await abnormal or anti-social treatment from someone before muzzling them. And you probably expect the same from others.
(For many people who post and demand only agreement, I’ve also noticed the overwhelming tendency for many of them to know that their ideas are at a minimum not sustainable under scrutiny and at worst, prejudicial or hateful in their intent.)
When you use social media in a limiting way, it gives the appearance that you aren’t comfortable with critically thinking about your position, or are so weakly decided that any criticism is treated as a personal attack.
Good people in general don’t attack people – they attack ideas.
If you post, you should invite both the monkeys and scholars to engage with you – otherwise, why have them as friends on a social network? It is possible, although exceedingly difficult, for adults to strongly disagree yet not engage in destructive argumentation. Many people confuse disagreement with dis-courteousness and nothing can be further from the truth when we are considering responsible, reasonable adults.
Trying to control contrary opinion only causes those who disagree to get creative and even more belligerent in their expression of opinion. It is in your best interest to let them vent and express, as fools exist to prove that nothing is foolproof. Let them talk – but demand that everyone be courteous.
If your ideas have merit, you will draw criticism. Silence or the demand for same is what creates the vacuum chamber which foments disproportional negativity.
Reconsider that temptation to request no criticism.
PS The picture is one I made a long time and posted before. But it is as true as anything has ever been.