Wow, that sure escalated quickly! #misunderstandings #polarization

We had an interesting experience this last week on social media that I thought was worth recapping and discussing.  In our world of ever more polarized positions on issues and with sensationalism in journalism, something has gotten lost.  That is the truth unfortunately.  I mean that in both senses.

I think back to my own childhood and I remember when my parents would watch the nightly news and we as a family would sit around and discuss what was going on in the world and the implications of whatever it was.  Now we have the top trending stories of the day and whatever click bait is grabbing peoples attention long enough to actually get them to take the time to read more.  Sadly, most of us don’t read the more part and we form opinions, often flawed, based on the headline or story teaser.

The post I’m referring to in this case, “HRC Joins in Solidarity with North American Muslims at an Islamic Convention” was picked up by some anti-Hillary people and quickly began to get re-posted on social media.  I have to admit that for about the first 5 minutes I was amused by the ridiculousness of these people in making the assumption that HRC stood for Hillary Rodham Clinton when it actually stood for Human Rights Campaign. In fact they have been referenced that way for as long as I can remember including them in our posts. It’s only recently that people started calling Hillary HRC, and now clearly confusing the two.

Once my amusement wore off and I began to realize this was beginning to snowball into misrepresentation and propaganda, I felt compelled to shut it down.  I immediately posted replies to those who clearly hated Hillary and who were inadvertently using it to misrepresent her.  I posted something to the effect that in this case HRC referred to Human Rights Campaign and not Hillary.  I even chose to add a happy face or Lol at the end of the posts to try and calm things down and to hopefully make people laugh at themselves for how they had misconstrued her position without even ever clicking the link and reading the article.  Not everyone here thought I should have added the happy face or the Lol, especially since the topics we cover tend to be rather serious.  And clearly this one was no exception to that.

Please understand, my intention was never to make a joke out of the post or the serious subject matter it entails, but to try and get people to lighten up a little and remember that it’s okay to laugh at ourselves and that all of this polarization is leading to some serious misrepresentations of various topics and depressingly the facts.  I also thought without that added on, it might spark a lot of Hillary haters to go ballistic and start attacking us on social media. Clearly, that’s not something I want to waste my time, or our readers time, on.

I suspect most of you know this already as our readers tend to be more critical in their thinking, but just in case… I think I should make this perfectly clear.  We go out of our way to try and not get caught up in the politics of candidates, parties, or wedge issues.  Yes, we most certainly skirt that line and cover some very dicey and controversial issues that at times are wedge issues.  We even criticize and commend candidates, propositions, and legislation based on how it relates to the issues we cover and the potential impact on them.

Anyone who knows me, knows I most certainly lean left on social issues, but I don’t ever like or dislike people or propositions based on political affiliations or opposition.  I try to think about each issue critically and to make informed decisions based on my core beliefs.  Just like our slogan says, we are Dedicated to People, the Planet, and all its Inhabitants!  I guarantee you if the Democrats started saying climate change wasn’t real or that we should suppress the rights of gays or transgender people, I would be writing about and posting articles questioning them too. I stood against President Obama on the TPP, but I also acknowledge that trade is important to our economy.  There are just some aspects of that deal that concern me, even though I think the President has done an overall good job on most issues. I just don’t blindly follow him or oppose the other side because of party. I’m an independent voter for a reason.

You know the really funny thing is that if you actually talk to most people, we tend to all have more common ground on the issues than the media and the two party system (here in America for those of you outside the US) would have you believe.  It’s the parties and the rhetoric that prevent us from finding common ground. It’s why cooperating with the other side of the aisle and working together to solve problems and advance resolutions for society have somehow become a sign of disloyalty and viewed as treasonous by those who are so blinded by party loyalty that they can’t see they are actually the problem.  Well them and those who stoke that attitude to the polarized mess we are in now.

Getting back to the HRC confusion… Had those people actually taken the time to click the link and read the post they would have realized the story was not a dig against Hillary, but was actually a story about a group that fights to protect the rights of LGBTQ people standing in solidarity with another group that is being attacked for their religious beliefs.  It really doesn’t matter whether you support or oppose either of those groups/causes, but to open your mind and to expand your knowledge and form your own opinions by educating yourself.  Believe me when I tell you that I/we don’t always agree 100% with some of the material we are given by various groups, but sometimes that is all the more reason to cover it.  We post regular updates on Gitmo detainees from groups like Human Rights Watch that I truly have mixed feelings about, as I suspect a lot of our readers do.  But I think we need to cover some of the uncomfortable aspects of things like that to make us continually question what we are doing and where we are going as society evolves.

We should never ever accept just falling in line with the status quo.  If our beliefs are really valid, they should be able to withstand some scrutiny and critical re-evaluation from time to time. Any attempt to stifle that, or to stamp out dissent is actually an attack on true democracy.  Yes it can be extremely uncomfortable and hard to talk about at times, but we need to get back to communicating with each other versus yelling our opinions at each other.  And you better agree with me on that!   🙂

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