Block. Delete. Unfriend. Unfollow.
You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We’ve all scrolled through Facebook or Twitter, muttered the words, “I really can’t stand this person anymore.” And then…
Block. Delete. Unfriend. Unfollow.
I would venture to guess that you spent most of this year feeling the need to do this across all social media platforms. The presidential election made for some vile exchanges from both sides of the political and social aisle. It brought out the worst in a lot of people.
But in doing some thinking, and being reminded recently through a podcast episode from The Minimalists, there’s a part of me that believes that it’s probably our fault. Every one of us has a part in all of the vitriol. This isn’t specific to politics, either. It’s just that the election season shined a nasty spotlight on the problem.
The problem? If someone has different beliefs or views from us-in any facet of life-we cut them out. We don’t listen to what they have to say, we just assume that they’re wrong and are morons for thinking differently than us. We close ourselves into this little box of beliefs and don’t entertain anything outside of it. We pat ourselves on the back for being open-minded, but turn around and close ourselves off if someone else’s thought doesn’t fit into the unchanging structure of our “open mind”.
I’m guilty of it as much as anyone. I wasn’t even aware of it until this election almost forced me to realize it. What I’ve tried to do since, though, is sit in the uncomfortable conversations and just listen. Just because someone may have different beliefs, doesn’t mean that everything that they say is ludicrous. They probably have a lot of good information to share. At the very least, they can provide a different perspective that I didn’t have before.
What The Minimalists shared in their podcast is what brought me to writing about this. They were speaking about being intentional with who you keep or invite into your circle of humans. I’d say most of us keep people around that share many of the same beliefs and values that we do. There’s nothing wrong with that, but why cut out the rest of the world? I think it’s important that we open the door for different ideas and beliefs so that we can question what has been engrained in our psyches. Accepting your ideas as absolute truths is flat out dangerous. Keep people around you that keep those ideas challenged. At the minimum, you will revisit what you’ve always thought and realize that you were right all along. Who knows, they may help you understand your belief even better with their perspective.
The next time you see a Facebook post or a tweet that rubs you the wrong way, don’t be so quick to block or delete that person. First, ask yourself if you are simply getting rid of them because they don’t believe what you believe. If that’s the case, keep them around and just try to understand their perspective. I’m not saying stay friends with everyone that annoys you. I’m just suggesting to not cut everyone out just because they’re not in the same camp as you.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
Don’t default to blocking, deleting, unfriending or unfollowing. Keep that person around. You may not agree with everything they have to say, but it’s still important to listen to.
Until next time,
Facebook: Nick Matiash
Twitter and Instagram: @getpastmediocre
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