Consider the following scenario:
You see a post, comment, or video on social media that you find frustrating or offensive. Perhaps the person is making straw-man arguments against your deeply-held belief, or they’re making statements that are fallacious or silly on the very face. Perhaps you can see such behavior or ideas as the direct result of a cultural or ideological worldview, and you want to demonstrate that “THIS” offending statement or action “is how you get” some other, much worse thing.
Yet, instead of writing a post or thread or story about the subject, you choose to say nothing.
You decide to say nothing because: 1) you don’t actually know the person in question, or the commentators involved; 2) this isn’t a national story or part of a cultural discussion being had–it’s a niche event; 3) it would be difficult to develop a thoughtful commentary or response in a handful of sentences; and/or 4) you realize that doing so may get you a few supportive shares and likes, but may also usher in as much or more backlash and arguments, requiring further clarification, follow-up, and almost inevitable blocking/banning.
So you read the comment, shake your head, and move on with your day.
Here’s a question to consider, reader: By choosing a course of non-interaction, what have you lost and what have you gained?
Feel free to discuss below. Or not–I leave it up to you.
[N.B.: I’m a bit busy this week. I will respond to all comments (even disagreements made in good faith), but it will not be right away. Thank you for your patience.]
4 thoughts on “Rethinking My Feeds: Thought Experiment.”
I think I’ve lost nothing and maybe gained nothing. Maybe I gained a little peace once in a while.
The problem is that it isn’t black and white. One day, engaging on a topic may be worthwhile, another day it may be a bad idea. One day I gain a friend. The next day I lose someone I thought was a friend…but the situation revealed they were not…
Some days I help people by adding commentary. Other days I frustrate myself or realize I spent too much time on that one topic or person.
It seems there are some people gifted with lives where online ministry makes more sense. And for everyone, there are probably limitations we should put on it.
It also seems there are some people where it’s outta control. So in those cases, they may need a complete step back for a while…I don’t know.
This is a very good response. I struggle with the question of whether I “ought to” engage more and challenge others’ assumptions or beliefs. But I think you raise a good point that perhaps some people have the disposition and temperament (or, frankly, the schedule) that allows for more productive online engagement, while others are better served by avoiding or minimizing conflict/polemics/critique in this medium.
I agree with Michael, I think I lost nothing and gain a peace of mind and time. But I hadn’t always been this way, I used to love debating with people online, but overtime I’ve learnt it is a complete waste of time. However, I notice it’s different if it’s face to face debate, people are generally more accepting and open during a face to face discussion vs a virtual one, I much rather invest my time in those interactions.
This is absolutely true–when your debate partner has a face you can actually see, it completely changes the dynamic. I’ve been reading a little bit about this lately (Cal Davenport’s “Digital Minimalism” and books/posts by Tony Reinke, specifically). Human interaction in real time and space tends to help us behave more civilly and recognize the common humanity and value of the people with whom we disagree. Of course, in order to do that, we need to have relationships with people who don’t align with us perfectly. And THAT is a whole ‘nother discussion! 🙂