I love Facebook and I use social media daily to stay in touch with people in my life. My feed is full of my many circles of friends - fellow parents, belly dancers, work mates, high school pals, former co-workers and classmates. I love the diversity of my friends and its OK that we differ in political and religious views. Diversity makes us stronger, but something has happened. This something is not just in my new feed, but unfortunately it's happening all over.
Somewhere we collectively crossed the line. I did it too and I have to be honest about that. As a society, we now vilify each other for having a different opinion. We can't just disagree with each other, we have to attack each other personally for our choices. Let me explain with some examples:
During the last Presidental race, I saw a discussion happening during one of the final debates. I commented on who I was voting for and suddenly several people began to go "after me". Instead of discussing the candidates, the people began to call me names. "You are an idiot." "What a dumb ___".
I don't know who I am going to vote for in the 2016 Presidential election. The debates are more than I can stomach right now and the candidates seem to be talking more about the others than their own platforms. Trump is someone who is vocal about things that I disagree with and he is not getting my vote, but I don't wish him harm. Still the statements in my news feed concern me about people wish him harm. If you don't like him, why are you giving him so much of your attention?
This weekend, one of the Supreme Court judges passed away. Scalia was a vocal conservative and I disagree with many of this comments, but he was still human being. For the past 24 hours, my news feed is full of evil memes taking delight in his passing. It's like he was not even a human being with family and feelings.
So why am I mentioning this in a single parenting blog? I mention this because I am trying to teach my son healthy ways to express himself and have a conflict. I say things daily like "use your words", "take a breath" and "if you need help calming down, have a seat in your cozy box until you are ready". My son has got to function in this world where he learns how to express himself and get through conflicts on his own. When I search the landscape for real-world positive examples, the world is leaving me wanting.
I believe in the importance in teaching math and English in our schools. We need to allow our children all the outlets they need in school to express themselves like art, music and recess. BUT we also need something else. We need to teach conflict management and basic communication skills in K-12 schools. If you don't believe me, turn on the news. We solve problems with violence. We attack each other. We don't listen anymore. (Listening means actually hearing and processing the words coming out of someone's mouth NOT trying to think up your witty, sarcastic retort.)
We brag about the great gadgets and advancements of our time , but on the evolutionary scale, we are still children fighting on a playground. We don't know how to coexist with others who have a different point of view from ourselves without wishing the other person harm.
You may write me off as naive. That's OK. I'm not leaving Facebook any time soon nor am I stopping my posts about my son. Going forward, I need positive conflict role models and experiences - not just for me, but for my son. It's time our society learns how to have a grown-up conflict.