Over the past year, Facebook timelines have been overrun with links to blogs advocating for sides of a story. Whether it has to do with the conflict in Gaza, the ALS challenge, or most recently the scandals in the NFL, social media has given everyone the chance to voice their opinions.
However, it seems like many are forgetting that the beauty of opinions is that they are neither right nor wrong. Instead of educating ourselves on both sides of a conflict, social media is creating a divide. While it is important to appreciate the right we have to let our opinions be known, it is even more imperative that we make sure this right makes our generation stronger.
People have the tendency to only click on the headlines that match their own viewpoints. But by doing this we are forgetting about the hundreds of other posts that may give us a perspective we have never had the chance to contemplate. And if someone takes the time to post a response in the comment section, it is rare that someone takes the time to thoughtfully analyze the opposite side. It’s time to realize the ability we have to learn about different perspectives is just as special as making sure our own voices is heard.
Social media was not created to fuel one-sided opinions. The point of social media is to connect people even if they are across the country or even the world. Nonetheless, somehow this tool seems to be causing more of a disconnect. While debating two sides of a story is perfectly normal, automatically turning to our defenses instead of compromise will only hurt us. After a blog is posted to Facebook, I’ve seen too many nasty comments essentially telling people their opinions are not only stupid but also completely irrelevant. By making any one person’s opinion seem unimportant, you are only hurting the credibility of our entire generation. If you do not treat every opinion with respect, regardless of how ridiculous it may seem, then before you know it your own opinion could be deemed insignificant.
People in many countries are still fighting for their right to speak out, which is something many of us seem to take for granted. Disagreeing with opinions is a part of life, but it is important to remember everyone is entitled to their opinions regardless of what you think. We need to remember how lucky we are to be able to advertise our thoughts freely with little to no consequence.
Whether you agree with an opinion or not, reading a different side of a story can only make you more open-minded on a topic. And when you disagree with something, think twice about the way you respond. There’s already enough conflict going on in the world without the hundreds of wars going on in the comment section of Facebook statuses.
Remember that social media is a powerful tool, and if it is used effectively, our generation has the power to create change just from a single blog post. We need to start supporting each other regardless of our differing opinions. While this is a problem in every generation, if Gen-Y starts this trend of being too divided now there is no way we will have the skill necessary to work together in the future. When people forgot to compromise, goals are rarely reached. Whether you plan to pass laws by becoming a member of Congress or you want to implement business deals, the most effective solutions are usually found somewhere in the middle. The trick is being able to realize meeting in the middle will almost always benefit the greater good, even if it means silencing your beliefs while you consider another’s.
Featured image via John Loo on Flickr