Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Facebook is the public forum for debate.
A recent Facebook post by a person I hold in the highest regard suggested that we shouldn't use Facebook for pushing our views on others. I understand her loathing of arguments filled with nasty comments or quips that look good on a bumper sticker but mean nothing. I share them. But I also welcome debate and find FB a good forum for it. My response to her comment is below.
While use of mocking language or personal attacks certainly make any debate unpleasant, debate itself can be very positive. I like FB debates because they take out the problems of verbal debates, emotional and rapid responses, interruptions, lack of a moderator when more than two are involved.
The idea that the voicing of opinions is separate from trying to change another's view puzzles me. The point of free speech is so we can exchange variations of ideas and pursue persuasion of another's view. The whole point of these freedoms is so evidence can be shared, theories presented, ideas exchanged so that we can change the world and the world changes first by changing ourselves and ourselves are changed by first examining our thoughts.
Isn't this better than sound bites on CNN/Fox/MSNBC? Isn't this a better way than mocking a president or a presidential candidate? If you don't debate where one can freely share, we leave our views to be developed by reckless pundits whose true interest, regardless of which side they stand, is money and ratings.
We go around saying we shouldn't discuss politics or religion and then sit in front of agenda driven TV and let the financial and monetary elites tell us what to think about both. We then tune out those who disagree with us and only notice them when they make mistakes. Then we go around hanging out only with those who think the same as us and forget that we do need people who can say, maybe we should reconsider. Sometimes we need friends, sometimes we need people who annoy us.
Facebook is the platform of the people. If we tell ourselves to shut up about issues here, those who know how to broker power will take that hole left and use it to further manage how we think. I can think of no greater joy than the use of social networking to create social change and not greater abuse than to stop it because it annoys others.
In fact the reason FB may have so much ugliness in debate may be because we have forgotten how to debate the issues. We may be following the example of the TV and injecting so much pride and anger in our positions that any challenge is viewed as a direct attack on the poster. This isn't debate, this is pride. We need to learn how to discourse and discuss. We need to learn that the win is in the learning and growing.
Speech is persuasion first, junk food later. Let us all take this day and remember that one of the reasons we celebrate it is because we have the right to voice our disparate views. We all live in a time when freedom of speech and press and gathering are greater than ever because the tools to engage in it are now ours to have more than ever. The best way to celebrate the 4th is to get on FB and start a debate. It is the very essence of why we celebrate our independence.