Social Media Sadness

What has happened to the art of conversation? As a child, I remember being at my Italian grandparents’ house for holidays and being wide-eyed and wondering at the “talking” going on around the dining room table. My mom was one of nine siblings, many of whom had no problem expressing their opinions in a very “animated” style. I am on the younger end of the cousin spectrum, and didn’t live in “the neighborhood,” so I was not as familiar with this form of communication as some of my older, wiser cousins. To me, it seemed like ferocious arguing that could at any moment break out into a brawl, but by dessert everyone was laughing and talking as if they hadn’t spent the last hour at each others’ throats, and I don’t remember any fistacuffs. What happened to the “good old days?”

Admittedly over the course of this pandemic I have been scrolling Facebook much too much. (I am working on a detox plan.) I love my education groups and discovering new ideas, catching up on the lives of family, friends, and former students and their families. Lately, I have realized this is not a good practice for my health and well-being. I know that tensions are running high after being cooped up for the past five months, but things are getting out of hand.

When you scoll the Facebook feed you see a plethora of post – Republicans vs. Democrats, BLM vs. Law enforcement, parents vs. school boards and teachers. Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion and to make decisions for their families based on their own thoughtful discernment, but what’s with all the trash talk? Discussions, if you can call them that have become bash sessions. While I know that going back to school is a hot button topic, and parents, teachers, and administrators are all in a tough spot, the posts I have been reading lately have been so disrespectful to public school teachers (my son is one), school boards, and administrators. I know parents are frustrated; my own kids have been struggling to make decisions about how my grandchildren will be learning in September, but where has all the “maturity” gone? Some of the things I have read have been downright disgraceful. It makes me sad.

I understand that people have different passions and post about them – sometimes when they are very worked up over the topic. What I don’t understand is why they feel they have the right to attack someone else. State your opinion; back it up with facts; sit back and consider the other side. Either you will be stronger in your own stance, move to the other side of the issue, or find some middle ground. The name-calling, insults, and defamation of character gets us nowhere. I wonder if many or most of the people writing the offensive posts would actually say those words out loud to a person? Some most certainly would; others can only “speak” in print hiding behind their computer screens.

What are we teaching our children? What kind of example are we setting for them. I am hard-pressed to think that the people writing these disrespectful posts talk any differently around their family dinner tables in front of very impressionable minds. We need to do better. Our future as a civilized society depends on it. Our children deserve more.