By Kelly Hawes
Someone on Twitter said she had interviewed a guy for a landscaping job and decided not to hire him because he had a bumper sticker supporting President Donald J. Trump.
“Now I’m feeling a little guilty about it,” she said. “Should I?”
Her followers were pretty much unanimous in their response.
“Absolutely not!” one said. “These people need to be shunned!”
That sort of sentiment seems common on social media, but is it really necessary?
I understand some disagreements go deep, and some of us clearly look at the world from entirely different perspectives.
Take this Facebook exchange concerning a newspaper report on the current pandemic. One woman suggested there was no way so many nursing home residents had died of COVID-19.
“Most of them were already sick,” she said. “If they had been healthy, they might not have died.”
Another woman fervently disagreed.
“How can you still NOT understand that just because someone has an ‘underlying condition’ does not mean they should be dead!?” she asked. “IF they did not have the COVID virus, they would still be alive today regardless of having any underlying condition like diabetes.”
Maybe she should have stopped right there. Instead, she kept typing.
“Seriously,” she said, “some people either need to pay better attention in school or our schools need to do a better job because reading comprehension doesn’t seem to have taken hold here very well!”
I’m guessing neither woman changed her mind as a result of that exchange, so was the fight really worth the rise in blood pressure? Lots of people will say no.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a friend or acquaintance suggest tuning it all out.
“It’s just too much,” one said. “I don’t need all that negativity.”
Another had a slightly different take.
“I think I need to take a Facebook break,” she said. “Arguing with stupid people is tiring and unproductive. No wonder our country is in big trouble.”
A lot of people just don’t engage on current events.
They go to Facebook to reconnect with old friends or to laugh at the silly jokes. They go for the funny dog video or that picture of a friend as a senior in high school.
I understand that, I guess.
It’s more fun to talk about the hairstyles decades in the past than to fight over our president’s latest misstatement of facts. And unlike our choice of presidential candidates, a cute dog video is something nearly all of us can agree on.
To be clear, I have no plans to stop weighing in on politics.
I understand the debate can be frustrating, but I still think there’s merit in airing the issues on social media. A respectful exchange of ideas might not sway those who have already made up their minds, but it could make a difference for the folks who are still mulling their choices.
And it’s those people, after all, who decide every election.
Still, politics isn’t everything.
Sometimes after connecting with an old friend on Facebook, I’m surprised to discover that we agree politically. Or that we don’t.
And when we disagree, I wonder whether it’s really worthwhile to fight about it.
We already have that previous connection. We shared the same teacher or our kids were in the same club at school. Can’t we just hang onto that?
And what about professional connections? Do we really need to vote the same way as the guy who cuts our hair?
Are those Twitter users right? Do we really need to shun all those folks on the other side?