Recently, I have been listening to Kelly Clarkson’s excellent song “You Can’t Win” often. It is one of those songs that is inherently relate-able (regardless of whether you like her music or not). The message of the song is pretty clear: It matters not who you are, what you do, or what you believe, you really cannot please everyone (or often, anyone at all). I could take apart the song, lyric by lyric and discuss how I relate to it, but I’m just going to go with one for now:
“If you speak, you’ll only piss ’em off. If you don’t, you’re another robot. If you go, they’ll just say you quit. If you don’t, you might lose your sh–.”
The impetus inspiring today’s iTunes repeat Clarkson-a-thon, is the recent rise in snarky or nasty political tweets and FB comments I seem to come across regularly. I do not wish to engage in a political debate on my blog or any other social media format because I am not sure it serves much purpose other than needlessly making enemies of friends and family members. Certainly one *can* share whatever comment one wishes to, it’s a free country and a (mostly) free internet. But just because you can, does that mean you should?
I think part of the problem is the rise in social media use and the feeling of “anonymity” associated with it. The online forum encourages people to say things that they would not dream of uttering in person. Ironically, the Internet makes everything one says quite public, which is why any notion of online anonymity is a complete façade. I learned a lesson years and years ago about taking care with my political comments (all of my comments, actually). I once boldly expressed my political opinion anywhere I was permitted to do so, but that has changed dramatically for me in the last 5 years (in part because I have been called to ministry). Now I often leave my personal opinions off social media (FB, especially), because I do not wish to lose friends over these sensitive topics.
I suppose I take particular umbrage with the instances where even having a thought or belief about something or stating that you watched, for instance, the RNC or DNC speeches is somehow an affront to someone. Those who know me, know I’m not a nasty person, bigot, racist, sexist, or homophobe and yet somehow the very idea that I am a Christian is somehow offensive to some people.
Something that is lost on many these days is that, as Christians, we are to follow Christ’s example of genuinely loving and accepting everyone. I try to follow this path each and every day. So it baffles me that when my moral code is a point of derision. Yes, I believe life begins at conception and that abortion ought to be used VERY infrequently in special circumstances. Why does this make me some kind of enemy to my fellow women? I do not wish to offend anyone. I can respect your opinion, and I’m not trying to take away anyone’s rights. I just don’t understand when it became a crime to have a belief system and a moral core. But, I digress.
Social media, in and of itself, is not to blame. Individuals chose what to post and what not to post. Certainly, it is the polarizing nature our two-party system in election season that brings out the worst in many of us. Social media is probably only at fault insofar as it makes all opinions more widely visible. Were people always so nasty and angry? I certainly hope not. Nor do I hope this is a trend heading in that direction for the duration of our time on Earth. I think it has always been the case that a bold and vocal minority makes bigger waves (especially online) than a silent majority. I am proud that, in America, all opinions are able to be presented, regardless of how agreeable or disagreeable. I am exceedingly grateful that we all have the right to practice our faith, no matter what we believe. My only wish here is that people on all sides would think before speaking and use more caution in the public expression of their opinions. I realize commentators and talking heads are paid for their opinions and that is all well and good. Read whomever you want, but think about what you read critically and temper your approach if you wish to maintain good relationships with others.
I don’t know, maybe you just can’t win. Perhaps my public thoughts here will fall on deaf ears. You are all welcome to your opinion just as I am mine. I implore you to consider that this political season will eventually come to an end, and my hope is that we all find we have as many friends after as we did before.
May God bless us all.
I shall close with lyrics from my favorite singer (who also happens to be vocally liberal), Aimee Mann:
“All you wanna do is something good, so get ready to be ridiculed and misunderstood. ‘Cause don’t you know that your a [expletive] freak in this world, in which everybody’s willing to chose swine over pearls? So maybe everything is all for nothing, still you’d better keep it to yourself, ’cause God knows it’s not safe with anybody else.”