Are you listening?
The polarity we are currently experiencing in our country is not only caused by differing political beliefs, in fact, the widening gap is in direct relation to the attitude adjustment we have allowed the internet to seed within us. Our society had at one time begun to experience cultural acceptance and shifts in tolerance until we were introduced to a new tool that was touted to connect us all and allow us to do more in less time with less effort.
But, sadly, the connections we have cultivated online are as tangible as the unseen fiber optic puppets stringing together our avatars and monikers taking ownership of our time with mindless postings, likes, shares, and tweets giving little thought to our actions or moods of the moment and the reactions our own actions may cause. Hiding behind computer screens we admonish and insult without care, without the grace or class with which we once had spoken. Feelings, our own and others, no longer matter and words of hate and violent hopes are shared as if they could have only a positive impact – as if Freedom of Speech was designed to dismantle a nation’s humanity by our interpretations and opinions.
Before the advent of the World Wide Web there was still a sense of community among us that is now mostly lost under the guise of a greater community online however, online interactions lack the foundation of which strong communities are built and that is a foundation of compassion and common need. Where we once listened and cared we now log off pretending to not have heard or worse returning later only to belittle another’s sorrow, confusion or need.
As an activist, my Constitutional Rights are in peril however, let it be said that I too have fallen prey to lines that have been blurred so well they have become smudges on my consciousness. The fine line we now walk between what is right and what could be wrong is rarely calculated and often crossed. Exposing corruption and injustice is important, but exposing your neighbor’s penchant for pink flamingos does little to create forward momentum in our society. We are capable of regaining humanity and community but, if and only if, we can adjust our settings, rethinking and redefining what Freedom of Speech really means and how to use it productively for the betterment of us all.