I was having a “conversation” on Facebook last night — as much as a conversation can be had on social media I guess. My conservative, Republican, lawyer friend from Albuquerque and I were “debating” gun control. We knew we weren’t going to change each other’s perspective, but the great thing about Facebook is that anyone can be watching.
Someone was reading our exchange —- maybe a friend of a friend of a friend. A high school student from Fort Collins, Colorado. He jumped into the conversation supporting my conservative, Republican, lawyer friend which might be consistent with the predominately conservative opinions flowing from Fort Collins.
Then he posted this:
“I met a man and we exchanged dollars. We each walked away with one dollar. I met a man and we exchanged ideas. We each walked away with two ideas.”
BOOM! A flash of enlightenment. The importance of exchanging ideas, listening to each other even when we don’t agree. Learning from each other.
The problem with Facebook is that people tend to gravitate to others who share their opinions. They “like” friends who agree with them. Perhaps it’s the human condition — to associate with like-minded people. Or perhaps it’s merely a desire to stay within our comfort zone – “please don’t challenge my beliefs.” Or maybe we pump up our faltering egos by counting those “likes” to our comments.
Whatever the reason, Facebook can be a dangerously narcissistic past-time, not to mention it is addictive.
Last night, that high school student from Fort Collins reconfirmed for me the benefit of exchanging ideas with people on Facebook.
I have “unfriended” people whose opinions and political leanings are closely aligned with my own simply because they can’t carry on a respectful conversation. I will never “unfriend” someone whose opinions are different from mine, so long as she wants to engage and exchange ideas. Then we can both walk away with two ideas.