It seemed like social media was going to bring the world closer together, to tear down the boundaries of distance, and usher humanity into a new age of togetherness.
When two people discuss their common interests with one another, talking about who they are, they build a connection. They begin to see each other as real people whom they can relate to. On the other side of things, social media has made it very easy to meet new people and immediately hate them. Lately, the people of this earth have been developing the bad habit of labeling others as “liberal” or “conservative,” “black” or “white.” We exist as labels in other people’s’ minds, and this dehumanizes us. It makes it easier for others to ignore what we have to say, to treat us in ways they would never dream of treating their friends.
This habit is one of the greatest threats facing our world today. If we dehumanize other human beings, we refuse to engage in meaningful dialogue, we refuse to come to agreeable compromises, we may even begin to justify violence towards certain groups because they look different, or have a different political viewpoint. If we want to heal these growing rifts, we must reach out past the borders of our comfort zone, of our online communities that act as echo chambers. We need to find a way to trust in the basic humanity of our fellow humans.
I’m not suggesting that social media is inherently bad, only that we must use it responsibly. Making snap judgments about a person based on a few sentences posted online is irresponsible use of this incredible tool.
To quote Dale Carnegie “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”
It’s only through working together and making an effort to understand opposing viewpoints that any real progress can be made.
We need a cultural movement. We need to start listening.
Where do you think we should start?