I am terrible at writing. I thought it best to warn anyone who might read my thoughts with any level of expectation. With that said, adjust your hopes accordingly and let's do this thing.
I was looking at Facebook earlier. There is one specific ‘friend’ whose posts always bother me. By bother, of course I mean push me close to a rage. I don’t know if there is anyone who has taken on many of the same labels I have yet somehow believes the polar opposite of me on everything he deems worthy of sharing. Naturally, I started to do what is easiest and most satisfying, delete him as a friend and discount him as invalid due to his terrible beliefs. I can't bring myself to do it.
Facebook is a great example of how we tend to prune our influences. We cut out people who disagree and accept those who will ‘like’ our political memes or amen us when we stand on our digital soapboxes. I have heard this described as creating a "social echo chamber." This strikes me as profoundly unhealthy. We stay in our groups establishing beliefs that are rhetorically beautiful, ignoring the influence or view of anyone outside our belief structure, and step out of our chamber only to draw lines and have all of ‘our people’ stand behind us as hype men as we belittle and mock those on the other side.
I don’t have an easy fix. I do have an opinion. From my own experience and what I have gleaned from history, it seems that conversation between opposing sides is the biggest influencer of change. I know--profound, right? The art of conversation with people we disagree with has been lost. In my experience, most interactions between people that disagree quickly devolve into throwing rhetorical questions and statements back and forth trying to produce the biggest zinger. If we can relearn how to listen and validate people, I feel like we can establish a healthy middle. You know, more bees with honey, and all that.