I’ve been off Facebook for a couple of weeks. I needed to take a break from the political rhetoric that has turned to fear, rage and hate. This past two weeks without the constant flow of negative reporting I have been noticeably more at peace. I still read the news, but not the Facebook narrative. When I first went on social media it was largely a place where friends kept in touch with friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen for years, and it was a great place to see family and friends’ pictures and hear news of them. It was all so innocent.
That has all changed and now it has become a forum for expressing opinions about politics and political sides, using as our source the mainstream news media, which no longer reports “news.” Rather it is a venue designed to whip up the emotions of the masses over stories that present sound bites and talking heads voicing only their opinions of the news. During the election it became clear that the national media was fomenting much of the fear, panic, and hysterical rage. There are numerous places where one can go to gather information on their own, read full texts of documents rather than hear a sound bite and come to a logical, non-emotion-driven conclusion about either side. This is what folks once did, before cable news and online news sites.
Anyone who has taken a basic Sociology course in college knows how the “herd mentality” works and for everyone on both sides of this political firestorm, we are all caught up in a media-driven herd mentality. I was getting caught up in it on Facebook and found myself becoming angry and at times scared at the reports and opinions I read. This fear-driven media has pitted us against each other and this division is what is going to ultimately do the most damage. Most everyone has already formed an opinion about the current situation in our country. Reading your opinion on Facebook is likely not going to change my opinion, and mine is not likely going to change yours, yet we continue to lob out opinion bombs, some with deep hatred and laced with profanity against people we once cared about. It is a war zone of opinions—nothing more than opinions. The media is controlling the narrative. However, if we are truly free-thinkers at all, maybe it is time to put the media back where they belong: as reporters of news, instead of creators of news.
There is a sort of upside to all of this however. All of this back and forth rhetoric is proof that we are still a democracy, where we are free to choose who we elect and who we vote for. We are still a nation where either side can protest, and state their side in print, books, blogs, and debates. All of this is evidence that even though the sides have become decidedly combative toward each other and more profane, it is still our choice—it is our freedom in action. Go to North Korea and try to protest. Go to China and try to protest. Go to Russia and try to protest; not cold war Russia—21st Century Russia—where a female singing group was arrested for anti-government song lyrics. Go to Saudi Arabia or any Middle East country and try to protest, try to bare your breasts demanding your rights. Seriously, I challenge anyone who thinks we have lost our freedom or who believes that we don’t have enough “rights” in this country, please, use your built-in common sense, take a deep breath and think for yourself. We must stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated by others opinions and using Facebook as our news source.
I was considering leaving facebook, but I have so many wonderful friends and family—people who encourage and love and pray for each other. I became a widow in 2008 and found groups of widows who support each other and bring much needed comfort. I see posts of friends who find themselves in need and others rushing to offer help and encouragement. I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum. We know what the other believes, but we have never allowed those things to divide us. However more and more I see that if one person believes differently than the other, they are hated for it. Face-to-face, we would never demean or humiliate each other over our differences the way some feel free to do now on social media. Facebook has created a place for cowards to express their anger and hatred for others in the most demeaning and profane way in comments. Most of these would never dream of speaking this way face to face with that person. Please, do not allow the opinions and media-driven fear and sound-bites turn us all into animals, I beg you. Please let us return to a civilized society.
As for me, I will continue to rely on the only One who knows the beginning from the end—God Himself. He recorded it all—the beginning from the end—and it is all happening just as it was recorded thousands of years ago—to the last detail. I’m not afraid of the future—no matter who is in office. He brings peace to my soul and my soul is desperately in need of peace in this culture. He does not hate either side of a political party, He died for everyone and He calls everyone to believe in Him—in His Name and to finally have peace in their souls and true freedom. I am thinking this is something we are all needing at this time.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30).