I don’t remember how I first got on Facebook, but I’m glad I did because it’s worked for me.
I’ve learned to just scroll past all the ads, fabrications, fake news, and the like, and get right at what’s up with my “friends” who are mostly people I’ve known for some time and people who became my friends through them.
I like never knowing what I might find. It could be a sad story that makes you sigh, or a beautiful picture of someone’s grandchild that brings gentle tears to your eyes, or a meme that is wise, or one that’s not so wise. So many of them about ridding our lives of people who aren’t good for us.
And I’ve run across a few such people online from time to time, like a young woman who tore into me like a bull goring a matador – because I had the audacity to think it was okay for a woman to breastfeed her baby in public.
Then she “unfriended” me after her quick vicious attack, and that was that! Man, talk about being taken aback. I thought she was trying to get a conversation going when she asked “Breastfeeding in public, for or against?” but apparently she was looking for an ass to kick.
What a chance we missed to engage with each other as human beings, a chance for each of us to be listened to, considering that everybody wants just that — to be listened to.
I don’t get the unfriending and blocking routine. It goes against my very nature. And, besides, I’m an educator and, as such, I’ve had to, literally, relate to every kind of person there is as a little of everybody walks through the front door of a school. And they have to be motivated and engaged and listened to. As a community. No unfriending allowed.
But, as a society, we miss so many opportunities to listen to each other and learn from each other. Social media is a perfect example of that.
I mean I’ve seen so many people on Facebook go the opposite direction from fully engaging with people opting, instead, to set up guidelines for behavior on their timelines: no cursing, no politics or proselytizing; no insulting or gossiping or shucking and jiving. I remember somebody saying: “If you even mention Trump on my page you’re outta here!”
And, I can understand based on some of the hateful tirades I’ve seen bandied about on Facebook.
But I just think that, from what I’ve observed, sometimes people act too quickly in distancing themselves from someone, missing small chances to connect, and, maybe, come to, at least, understanding a person’s point of view even if you don’t agree with it.
One thing that’s worked for me in place of unfriending somebody and calling them an “idiot” or “lowlife,” is I insist that they be clearer when I find their declarations a bit preposterous, like give me one example of how Trump isn’t racist. Just one.
Or I might want them to address, regarding, say, Lebron James providing education for inner city children, how they can consider him “dumb.”
Or when they say something like their “ancestors came to the country legally, adopted it’s culture, didn’t spit on its traditions, didn’t cost a dime to the federal government, and demanded nothing” I just have to get their take on who really discovered America and just whose ancestors committed atrocities — like the Seventh U.S. Calvary’s Massacre at Wounded Knee to bring an end to the “Ghost Dance,” a spiritual ceremony. And I’d want to know how all that didn’t cost a dime to the federal government.
After that they’re gone. They unfriend themselves from me. And when I do hear from one of them they usually have thought about something I said. Like I replied to a negative post about Colin Kaepernick’s stance regarding the anthem with: “And there’s still nothing being done about inequality and police brutality in black communities, the cause Colin has promoted from the start.”
And the poster, a woman, replied “I agree with you, Ernie, on what’s going on in the black community, and the unequality, etc. but at the same time I don’t agree with disrespecting the flag.”
And I shot back “So what should he do?” citing how no matter what my people do, society says we’re going about it wrong.
To that she said “I don’t know what the answers are either,” to which I replied “Part of the answer is for citizens to help in ways that they can, rather than ridicule people like Kaepernick for bringing attention to social and political problems.”
Now, this is small stuff in the grand scheme of things, but I think listening and learning from each other is vital if we human beings are to ever get along with each other.
And I don’t see how future generations can survive as a species if they don’t learn how to listen to each other.
Listening is a skill that takes practice and we should be motivated to learn how to do it by remembering that … everybody wants to be listened to.