Another day, another scroll through your Facebook feed. It’s not long before you stumble upon a controversial video, shared by your lab partner from sophomore year of high school, with more than 40 comments from fuming adversaries who evidently think their opinion is superior.
“What’s new,” you think to yourself, as this one features your lab partner defending a man who wore a “Build that Wall” T-shirt in public. Your former classmate became enraged when others spoke out against his shirt and what it stood for, while at the same time getting upset when people commented angrily on the video he shared, defending free speech.
The worst part isn’t that he shared a video that might make you cringe or that he’s partaking in the fruitless comments below it, but that he is surprised people came forth to challenge his view.
And here’s where so many people are wrong. There’s something very admirable about a person who willingly stands up to express what they believe in, as this isn’t easy for just anyone.
But doing this alone isn’t the crown jewel, the Holy Grail of achievement.
It’s missing a crucial element — the ability to look upon the opinions of others that differ from your own and respect them, however little you agree with them.
This is the fatal flaw in the mind of an activist.
Though your side may have science, logic and reason backing you up, ostracizing the opposite side places you above them, meaning that you are foolish enough to write off anyone with an opposing view just because it’s not your own.
But it is someone else’s view. To attack someone and put down what they believe in because it’s not what you believe in doesn’t do anyone any good.
The noblest thing you can do is to look upon another’s position with respect while waving your banner high. The best thing you can do is merely ask them why they feel that way, how they got to that system of beliefs and discuss how it differs from your own.
You don’t get to shun someone’s ideas because they are not your own. You get to interrogate, try to understand and push others to consider doing the same.
Maybe when we know all the facts we can start to get on the same page.
Maybe when we realize that posting a controversial video only invites discord, each side too proud to go down without a fight or stay quiet, we will stop sharing them with the intention to shun others or prove them wrong.
Maybe when we figure out that your list of Facebook friends, the nation and the world is at a stalemate, with two ardently passionate sides pushing hard in opposition, we can stop lashing out at people with the opposing view and target those who are undecided. Or even better, not seek power in numbers but power within ourselves.
Sharing a Facebook post to spread awareness is more than OK, but attacking someone’s opinions and shunning them for having a perspective we dislike will not create progression. This will only slow our advancements.
So stop sharing videos that make waves and being surprised when they do exactly that. Stop posting statuses to egg on the comments of your opponents.
Instead — should you find yourself with a unique and different point of view — get out there and fight for that view. Wave signs and march tall in the way that makes real change.
As grand as you may feel in your throne of individuality and style behind your social media profile, pressing the share button isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.