One of the factors in our society that has been blamed for our increased polarization is social media. It amplifies our differences and makes them more painful. Plus, the algorithms underneath boosts the posts that are most likely to cause bad feelings, because that increases both clicks and amount of time spent on the platform. This is Jonathan Haidt’ latest hobby horse, and I agree with him. Here’s a link to his website, which summarizes his research and thoughts on this topic.
I’ve written some suggestions before about how you might consider not playing into that (link).
But we are all human, we all make mistakes, me included. Recently, I made one on NextDoor that I am trying to learn from. Let me tell you the story and where I think I went wrong, and how I might have done better.
The post was from someone who was having problems using a government program to buy food at a convenience store near their house. The responses included suggestions for other stores and one person who suggested that the person get a job.
That set me off. How did they know the person’s situation and why they qualified for the program? But instead of asking a question (as I have previous recommended), I said “that’s mean”. I got a reply from the person, but when I clicked on the link, both comments had been taken down. Thank you NextDoor for erasing my slip. I admire NextDoor for not falling prey to the typical social media rabbit hole of increased clicks and time spent.
What I did is something that I have heard “calling out”. It have heard people say that this is a good way to engage in conversations with those you disagree with. But I have come to believe that it doesn’t solve anything, that the system of asking good questions, listening, affirming and responding is much better in advancing the conversation. I’ve linked the posts for each of those if you want to learn more.
I recently stood my ground in a very large closed FB group & carefully & kindly stated my position & request. Someone shared their experience of what felt like racism to the her. Most people made excuses for the person who words sounded like racism. Not to repeat my comment, my main reason for speaking up was to affirm how the poster felt. And to invite this group of women to speak up for our sisters. No one took me on. A couple of women, noted they agreed. Although I came late to the conversation so I’m not sure many even saw it. You are so right, it takes those steps to crafting a response. Most of the times, I let it go.
I’ve done exactly that, too, more than once. Great article.