Facebook is a social networking website that makes it easy for people worldwide to connect and share with family and friends online. Its creator, Mark Zuckerberg designed the website to be used exclusively by college students. However, today Facebook is the world’s largest social network with more than one billion users. Facebook is used for many things. Users can send instant messages and post status updates to stay in touch with family and friends. Content such as photo’s, links to videos and websites and more can be shared instantly. Job postings, inspirational messages and lots more are shared via Facebook. Facebook is a great tool and can be lots of fun and informative. However, I have to be honest; I was hesitant in joining the online community. I had a number of friends who were already actively participating and were trying to convince me to join in on the ‘fun.’ And as I think about it, I cannot recall what the cause of my reluctance was. But it is said that hindsight is 20/20. So if someone were to ask me today if they should join Facebook (though I can’t imagine anyone would given its popularity) I would warn them that Facebook can be addictive and very distracting. But even beyond that I would also warn them of the cyber bullies on Facebook. Yes, you read that correctly–cyber bullies. Cyberbullying is the use of cell phones; instant messaging, email, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone.
With the birth of social media news now travels rather quickly. Within minutes of a breaking story, millions of people have been made aware of it via Facebook and are reading and posting their thoughts and opinions about it. But you know the old adage; “opinions are like…..everyone has one.” However, that in no way stops us from sharing our opinion on anything we have a view about. But what many of us fail to remember is that everyone is entitled to their opinion and we should respect everyone and their opinion. It’s ok to disagree. It’s healthy to disagree. Healthy disagreements open the lines of communication and allow us the opportunity to become better acquainted with one another. Lately though, I’ve witnessed anything but. I’ve read posts and comments of people who threatened others. I’ve seen name calling and just complete discord coming from adults on events ranging from the Baltimore Riots to the most recent church burnings. Races are spewing hate towards one another and one that personally ruffles my feathers; the constant bashing of one’s spiritual beliefs. What is ironic about all of this is that the same individuals who are exhibiting cyber bullying tendencies would absolutely lose their mind if their child was the victim of bullying of any kind or an active participant. So why then are we the adults, not living by the same example and standards that we expect from our children?
Recently during meditation a thought was placed in my spirit; “we have become some of the very things that we hate.” We speak against bullying and become upset when we learn of a child being bullied. However many of us have become what we hate. Respect is twofold. We expect others to respect our opinions and therefore should respect the opinions of those who disagree with us. Respect does not resort to name calling, bashing or threatening of any kind. Respect does recognize that we are all different and have different opinions. So what can we all do to exercise more tolerance when our opinions differ from that of another?
- First, we should seek to understand. Before attempting to convince someone that our way of thinking is correct and theirs is wrong, we must first remember that we all come from varying backgrounds and experiences and beliefs. So for many of us our thought process comes from what we were taught and what we have experienced. Therefore we should all take the time to seek to understand everyone before resorting to cyber bullying.
- Once we have taken the time to understand the other person’s opinion, we should consider the possibility that if we had journeyed the same road as those whose opinion differs from ours, is it possible that we may have the same opinion. Suppose you were born and raised in America and the person you are listening to was born and raised in another country. Or you were raised in the big city while the other person was raised in a small town. Once you consider that the two of you were raised differently, ask yourself “What if I was raised in another country or in a small town?” You may begin to see how the tables could easily be turned.
- Next, everyone believes their ideas are correct. Therefore we must be careful not to say someone is wrong. At the end of the day, our ideas could be just as wrong.
- In seeking to understand, let’s also seek to learn from one another. Ask yourself, “Do I think this way out of fear?” Allowing ourselves to learn from others just might open our eyes to something that we have been afraid to see.
- Patience truly is a virtue. As a Christian I believe that patience is one of the Fruit of the Spirit. Therefore I strive to exercise patience in every situation. When someone states something that we know is really wrong, we must be patient and instead of trying to force our opinion upon them we should explain with reasonable arguments why they are wrong. For example, if a person is use to stealing you can reasonably argue the point what would they do if someone stole from them?
- In becoming more aware of my opinionated self, when I am unable to address the situation respectfully and with patience, I will avoid it altogether. I have learned that everything is not my fight and I do not need to voice my opinion on everything that is posted. It has been hard. But so necessary. If one or more persons becomes disrespectful and insists on imposing their opinion on you, it is best to walk away from the situation to allow the other person (and yourself) to calm down. If a happy medium cannot be found it’s safe to simply say, “We can agree to disagree” and let it go.
- Your opinion, your way of thinking, is it helping or hindering you in life? Have you been successful with your way of thinking? If not, seek out coaches or mentors that can help you see what you may be missing.
At the end of the day we all desire to be heard. And that is perfectly normal and fine. But in our desire to be heard we must also desire to seek understanding and respect that not everyone will think as we do. Social media should not bring stress or negativity to our lives; and the moment it does we must make a decision to change or step away. You won’t miss anything; I promise.