For many of us, the comment section under posts on Facebook, Twitter and others is a place we avoid. Even the most well-intentioned posts can set off a string of responses that can contain inflammatory language that is meant to provoke. We also tend to follow individuals and organizations that align with our beliefs and values. In fact, these social media platforms are often designed to present us with content that an algorithm has determined we would like and therefore engage with.
But what can we learn from those who disagree with us? How can we build empathy for dissenting views? Consider utilizing social media to expand your own knowledge base, further define your perspectives, and stay in conversations in real life even when faced with opposing viewpoints.
• Social media is a conduit for ideas, opinions and current events. Rather than just following those who you agree with, also follow those who opinions and content are different from yours.
• Sharpen your thinking by building empathy for dissenting viewpoints. While you may never come to agree with those views, you will have more information to inform your own argument.
It’s easy to be cynical and dismissive. It is much harder to actively listen with thoughtful discernment.
Respectful disagreement conducted through civil discourse, particularly on a platform such as social media, is hard work and requires discipline and practice.
Keep yourself informed and your mind open.
“It is through others that we develop into ourselves.”
Kelly Gagan is vice president for Institutional Advancement, Nazareth College.