Think About This: Posting Online (Part 1)

Okay so I know I already did a “Think About This” today but something came up that really illustrates what I am trying to do here. Since I am just starting out the majority of my followers are people I know in ‘real’ life, and so are the majority of the ‘Likes’ and followers on my Facebook page. I am sorry to bust you guys out so early in the game, but that is kind of the point here, and if you really disagree with what I am about to post, maybe this isn’t the blog you should follow (or just T.H.I.N.K. before you post and you won’t end up here). I am not immune, I am going to share my struggle with my response, as what I wrote certainly wasn’t my emotional reaction to the comment, but a thoughtful one – that doesn’t make me right, I just found a more positive way to express my opinion. I am not saying that my opinion is the correct one and theirs is the wrong one and I am also not claiming that any of my words are backed up with facts (well not in that particular response).

I took a screenshot of a post I put on the Tolerant People Facebook page and the comments that followed:

Racist

Post: Racism is something you learn Not something you are born with

Friend: Actually, according to a scientific journal, we are born with mild forms of racism.

Me: I would be interested to see that journal. Like does speak to like, but that doesn’t translate to hating another race entirely. We do that to ourselves by separating from those that aren’t ‘like’ us. Also, there is something to say about ego-centrism that starts us on this path; “I am the greatest, so therefore people who look like me, or act like me are also great – everyone else is inferior.” That is human nature, maybe, but we also have the skills of rational thought and free will.

So let’s break this down a little –

This person apparently has an opinion that racism is something we are born with mild forms of. I say opinion because while they did mention that it was in a scientific journal, they did not post what journal or study so that I could see the facts outside of the interpretation they got out of it and form my own opinions. So, until I see the scientific journal I am going to assume this is opinion and not fact. In their defense, I started writing this before they had a chance to respond to my request to see the journal.

My emotional response to this statement went something like this:

REALLY!!!!! I think that is just your personal excuse to justify your racist feelings. I am also a little offended that you would take something positive (the photo and message) and use it to justify racism. Also, I don’t think racism means what you think it means.

Then I went through these steps:

T – Is what I am about to say Truthful?

H- Is it Helpful?

I – Is it Inspiring?

N – Is it Necessary?

K – Is it Kind?

If it doesn’t fit into one of these categories then you probably really don’t need to say it.

So instead of being emotional and basically starting a fight I simply asked to see the journal they say claims this, and went on to use my knowledge in psychology and sociology to express what I think the study may have actually been about and why as human’s we tend to stick with people who look or act like ourselves. No false or misleading claims, no emotion, just a thoughtful response.

One of three things will happen next – 1. They will have an emotional response to my post or 2. they will find that journal and post a link and defend their viewpoint armed with the actual document they are claiming supports them or 3.  this is the last I will hear about it and they will either be mad at me and stop following this blog, or they will see what I am trying to do here and understand. I am perfectly okay with any choice they make, but I hope they stick around.

The thing is, someone will come along and maybe read that post and then turn around and say, “I heard there was a scientific study that proves we are all racist!” It will spread like a disease. Nothing positive can be gained or given by that statement, and in my opinion should not have even been said. What is the reason for it? I am all up for a good debate about racism, it is something I am passionate about since I had to retrain myself as an adult because I was taught that a certain group of people were evil. However, I don’t think taking a squat on a positive message is the way to go about that debate.

I want to thank the person who posted that comment because it is a perfect illustration of what I would like to see change in our online interactions. So try it out, try to T.H.I.N.K. before you post and when you do post; practice making it meaningful.

Update: As I was writing this the person responded. We are now fact checking ourselves and having a rather nice discussion about the whole thing. The end result: we will both end up learning something new and we don’t have to completely piss each other off to do it. In addition, those that come along later and read the exchange will also hopefully learn something. 
Look at that folks! Progress.

3 thoughts on “Think About This: Posting Online (Part 1)

  1. Also just a little disclaimer, if you post to this blog, the Tolerant People Facebook page, or the Sophist Six Facebook account, you are fair game. Postings to my personal page will not be featured here. Maybe I should have told you all that sooner. My bad…

  2. If the topic is T.H.I.N.K., Then I think this is just a steaming pile of awesome I need to aspire to. The debate on the 2nd Amendment has had me on edge the last few days. I’ve been trying to present rational arguments to people that I think are being irrational, but I find myself getting emotional and feel like the whole thing blows up in my face. I think we all have a habit of saying something we THINK we know without presenting evidence for the case. Asking for the journal entry was a great way to start a dialog that might actually mean something.

    • Yes Ray the topic is T.H.I.N.K. and I should have done a better job of getting that across. I too get overly emotional when having Internet conversations, especially when it comes to politics (which is one of the reasons I started this to begin with). Another thing we have to realize is that we aren’t going to have decent conversations with everyone we encounter even if we are as rational and kind as possible. This worked with the person in this post because I know them and I know that they are rational and kind by nature – so that helped. Some people we just have to learn to ignore. Most people are strangers to us and really don’t care what we think or feel, and to start a more positive experience, more people just need to walk away from the ‘trolls’.

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