I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one who has ever asked that question of their friends. Most of us spend a little bit of time on social media, and we see conflicting posts and opinions. We see friends posting fake news, some of them actually think it’s true. Our society gravitates to catchy story titles that we want to believe is true, because they will support our opinions and fuel hatred of topics, people, and issues that we have already made our minds up about. We like the validation that the story gives. So we hit that little “Share” button at the bottom of the article; whether it be actual fact or fake news. Because we don’t care what it is -because once again it validates the opinion that we already have formed for ourselves: regardless of whether the post is credit worthy or not.
It’s what happens next that is in question. We want the people in our circle to see our opinion; to believe that we are right to feel that way too. So we push that opinion and that “Shared” post onto our friends, so that they can see what we’ve found to support our beliefs. We want to push our opinions off on them and have them believe it and support it too. Regardless of whether the information is in fact true news or just someone’s opinion and not actually fact at all, and we hope to spread the word this way.
Our society thinks that we can change the minds of our friends simply because we have a strong opinion, and a picture of something that resembles what could be the truth, but could also be a lie.
So now our opinion is out there, floating around on social media. It’s waiting for validation from our circle of friends. Some of them will hit that little “Like” button. Some will opt to use emojis that are laughing, crying, or giving the “angry” face. But the ones who have some sort of conviction about what we’ve posted will actually hit the “Comment” button instead. This is where we see the passionate side of the people that are in our circles. They are either passionate and agreeing with what we’re saying, or they are passionate about letting us know that we are dead wrong.
Everything is gravy when those circles of friends agree with what we are saying, because we can feel validated now. The question, “Was it worth it?” Comes into play when someone from our circle is offended, or disagrees. Then one comment leads to another, and the next thing you know we’re saying mean things, and then blocking each other as friends so we can cut them out of our lives forever. Well, was it worth it? Was one little shared post of fact or fiction worth ending a long friendship? We can only answer that question for ourselves. Is it okay to have conviction at the cost of a friendship? Is standing up for our beliefs more important than a relationship with someone who came to our graduation, or hosted our baby shower? Are we so sure that post was the pinnacle of our opinion that it’s more important than loving our neighbor or being a good friend.
If you’re laughing at these questions, you are doubly blessed to have the kind of friends and to be the kind of friend that understands social media is only a virtual world, and that you’re relationships are what’s real. But many of us cannot laugh. It’s a fragile world that we live in, with topics like: Trump vs. Hillary, gun control, terrorist attacks, prayer in schools, the economy, unemployment rates, illegal immigrants… and so many other equally concerning topics, so much passion, and so many opinions.
When I was young I would have never discarded a friend because their opinion differed from my own, but being a grownup is more complicated. There’s more obligations and responsibilities. But sometimes I have to wonder if acting like a child wouldn’t make me a better friend. I loved more back then, I forgave faster back then, and I didn’t need social media back then to tell me what to believe, feel, or fight for. So tell me, is hatred and losing an election really worth ending a friendship over?