I’ve seen a number of people on my Facebook feed express the sentiment “Silence is consent” regarding the recent events in Charlottesville. And while I do agree, that standing by the side, being silent is consent, I’m not so sure I agree that it applies to Facebook. Here’s why.
Years ago, I posted on political issues continuously. What ended up happening was that someone would decide to argue the opposite point on my thread for whatever reason (whether that’s how they really felt, or they just wanted to be contentious has yet to be decided). Whenever this happened, it would quickly escalate. People who were mutual friends of mine would begin tearing each other apart online. I often felt stuck in the middle, and I hated seeing people that I care about abuse each other in such a fashion.
One such example actually hit home quite closely for me, with one of my own family members and I “unfriending” each other on Facebook. The next time we saw each other in person was really awkward. Embarrassed, I openly confess that neither of us would have said these things to each other in person.
Since the protests in Charlottesville began, I have seen people that I care about posting on totally opposite ends of the spectrum – “How is this happening in 2017?” and “Hey, man, they have the right to freedom of speech, too, even though what they’re saying is wrong.” Now, personally, I’m with the first camp. How IS this happening in 2017? How are we moving backward and not forward?
But I’m not saying it on Facebook.
It is exhausting to think that every time something happens, I need to post about it saying I do not agree with or condone such things. Every time a person is raped or assaulted, I do not feel the need to immediately distance myself from such individuals. I would hope that the people who know me know me well enough to know that I obviously DON’T align myself with rapists, murderers, or white supremacists.
But please don’t think that means I am silent.
I just do not believe that for me, Facebook is the forum for such a stand, due to those who hide behind a computer screen and feel free to say things to me, and friends of mine, that they would never say to our faces. I recently scrolled through a thread in which people, who I know actually care about each other in real life, became downright hostile with one another, calling each other names that the City Moms Blog Network would not allow me to publish. So I stand by my statement: Facebook is not the forum.
So what is the forum? I know this is going to be unbelievable, but I believe that best forum for such a discussion is through face-to-face interaction. A time when you can see the other person, and you are really hearing what they have to say. I teach high school kids, and we often have in-class discussions in which, the students are in a circle so they can see each other, and we have discussed many “controversial” topics. Guess what? In such a forum, every single kid is listening to the other student and is respectful, (and this is key) even when they disagree. I imagine that if my students were discussing these same things on a Facebook thread, hiding behind a computer screen, they would easily escalate to unkind language and bullying. I know this because I have seen adults do this very thing.
So, no, you will not guilt me into a passionate post taking a stand on every issue. Just because I have not posted about it does not mean that I consent. If you truly don’t know me well enough to know how I feel about these issues, please ask. But let’s discuss it in person over a cup of coffee.