When was the last time you won an argument or discussion on social media? The answer. Never. The days of polite, social intercourse seem to be long gone. It sometimes feels like all that is left is the other word for intercourse, and I don’t mean friendly. Too often the default position is, “my way or the highway, you are wrong, and I am right”. You might even start defriending friends, blocking old buddies, axing acquaintances and end up in an echo chamber. Now you are siloed off in the blissful realm of ignorance. The ignorance of not being exposed to another idea, another opinion, another way of thinking even if you disagree with it. “Hey Brad, but those idiots are just wrong, those people have an agenda, those people are ruining the country.” Perhaps, but how will you ever know how strong your position is if you are not open to hearing other ideas, even if they may be wrong?
I am a member of many groups on many platforms in social media. Often, I am just a voyeur, reading and looking but seldomly engaging on most. I do this to try and determine how others may think, feel or react to the passing scene. I read other’s ideas and internally ask myself, “Is this written on principle or emotion; Is this a personal experience or a bubbameister.”
(A grandmother’s fable in Yiddish). If a post, picture or phrase upset me I will read it, reflect on it. Then open a word document and write like a crazy man and then put it away and read it the next day. If I still feel the same way I may post it, but by then hopefully the “better angels” have spoken and the embarrassment of posting something I’ll regret has passed.
Several years ago, I started posting an ongoing series of images that intrigued, inspired and informed my connections on what I was reading. Usually on Sunday afternoon I will perch myself out on my porch, light up a favorite cigar, pour myself a favorite beverage, usually Bourbon, and read a book that interests me. I am a voracious reader. There are so many great books to read and learn the timeless wisdom of the ages. There are current policy books that address an emerging or ongoing public issue, biographies that inform how a person lives, learns, and laughs through life. I also enjoy books on history, philosophy, business, public speaking, communication as well as stories of ideas and people.
I’ll post a photograph of said book, belvedere, and beverage on social media with a quote from the author or I’ll reflect on how the book impacts me or best yet, why I think others might benefit from reading it. Like a moth to a light, people are often attracted to the image or interested to know what brand of beverage or smoke I am enjoying. For the most part a conversation ensues or likes, hearts or smiles pop up on my feed. In the many years of these positive post I have only had one connection attack me because he did not like the title posted. I asked if he would read the book so we could have a conversation afterward. More nasty comments ensued so I did what I rarely do, I blocked this individual.
I will not tolerate a person who will not have the common courtesy to engage civilly. We can disagree respectfully. We can have feisty and firm disagreements on ideas and subject matter. It is good for people to understand their positions based on their principles. To be a connection with someone on social media should be considered a privilege and should be done in good faith. If a person gets upset because of a book I read, or its title, they have many more problems than I want to engage in. After all, life is short and so am I. There are too many great books to read and I don’t have the time or the patience to fight or virtue signal.
Now if you don’t mind, it’s time to get out on the porch, with a book, belvedere, and a beverage.