“What is the matter with our country?” This is a question I am hearing more and more . There is nothing wrong with our country. It’s the people that live inside of it. When did the need to be right become so much more important, than the need to be kind?
I grew up in a family that liked to argue. It was more of a sport and we constantly challenged each other on anything and everything. I remember one argument we had over the color of a suitcase. “That suitcase is black”. “No it’s not, its navy blue”. “Actually, you are wrong, it’s black”. Repeat.
There was another one where we were driving as a family on vacation and we hit this long, straight stretch of road in Nebraska. We argued if we were going uphill or downhill on this perfectly flat part of I-80.
In college I fell into a group of friends who had a similar mentality. We would argue over anything, but it was over silly things and never really heated. It’s just what we did. It never caused any problems and we generally ended up respecting both sides of the argument in the end.
The problem was, after years of being hardwired this way, my natural response was to take the other side of any argument and play devils advocate. It became part of who I was and it soon started to become a part of me I didn’t like. It started causing problems with friends and family who didn’t enjoy the sport of arguing.
When I became a father, I would do it to my kids. I would argue with them over the stupidest mindless things. When I noticed this trait taking root in my four year old son, I started to get worried. Do I want my children to grow up arguing every little tiny conversation they have? Do I want their initial response to every statement to be, “no it’s not”, or “that’s not true”?
It is something that I am working to correct. I am becoming much more aware of my initial internal reaction and reframing the response, or non- response.
The problem I see out there in the world, is that people are debating things just to debate. There is very little listening. There is no empathy. Not even any try. People aren’t trying to understand the other side and that gets them nowhere. Whoever is loudest wins and it’s ugly.
During the 15th anniversary of 9/11, I saw posts where people were giving thoughts and prayers to the victims of that terrible day. People thought it would be a good idea to hijack the post that was meant to be a moment of important remembrance and start a fight. People used that opportunity to voice how they disagreed with the Bush administration and the choices they made soon after that. They voiced how they thought it was all a conspiracy and an inside job. It turned what was supposed to be a positive memorial into an ugly battle where no one would back down. The back and forth inside these threads were disgusting. The overall tone was, “I am right, and you are wrong”.
If you want to have those arguments, start your own post. Don’t take something positive and turn it into your soapbox.
The same thing happened when a backup QB started kneeling during the national anthem. Everyone picked a side, dug their heels in, and fought tooth and nail that their beliefs were right, and if you thought differently you were an idiot.
It is being played out on the worlds biggest stage in the “Most powerful country in the world”. This attitude has turned the 2016 presidential election into a full season of professional wrestling.
We have become whiney, point the finger, it’s not my fault monday morning quarterbacks. What people don’t seem to understand, is that all of this vitriol that is being flung back and forth does absolutely nothing and it’s selfish. If you “win” your stupid Facebook fight, all you’ve done is made someone else upset and you have actually won nothing at all. You are probably better at wasting time than the other person because your opponent found something better to do.
All you’ve done is left your mark as a loud uncompromising person who just wanted to get the last word in. This ends up fracturing relationships and causing more separation. More separation is the last thing this country needs right now. Good job.
If people could use this energy in the right way, maybe, just maybe, we could see some real change. Instead of blowing up someones feed, why don’t you write your senator or your congressman. Imagine if their email boxes were as full as some of those posts are. You do understand that posting a picture or writing a snarky comment about how we need term limits does less than nothing.
OR. The next time you want to get into it with someone, just don’t.