I re-entered the Facebook world last month after a five-year hiatus. It’s really good to be back. I enjoy seeing up-to-date pictures of my best friend’s kids, I know how to use Dawn dish soap for purposes other than to wash my dishes, I’m kept current on the day’s political news, and I even found out I’m a helicopter mom due to the latest quiz I happened to take, all by scrolling through my news feed.
I will admit I have become somewhat of an addict when it comes to my re-introduction. I find myself taking my phone into the bathroom with me, checking it in between making the bed and doing laundry, and I even postpone going to bed by sometimes up to several hours by scrolling through the pictures, comments, and memes I seem to find fascinating. Yes, several hours. Really.
But what I happen to find even more fascinating is the way people respond on Facebook when their own way of thinking gets challenged.
For example, when the hot topic of Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner came about or even the matter regarding gay marriage. I read comments and watched videos that astounded me. Hateful, spiteful, vicious, and even heinous words were typed and spoken by human beings. Those words, spoken and typed, were justified by the offenders, with them saying such things as: it’s our religious freedom, goes against the Bible, I think it’s wrong, ugly, distasteful, etc.
As I scrolled through my feed with my own personal opinions on Caitlyn (Bruce) as well as gay marriage, I found myself getting fired up! I was ignited by the opinions of others and how mine didn’t match up with theirs. The thought of “un-friending” those particular individuals on the spot came to mind, but I chose not to. Rather, I found it within myself to respect another view point – another perspective, rather. I put myself in the passenger’s seat for a moment. Because my views and opinions are different than another’s on Facebook or in real life, would I want them “un-friending” me over such indifference? Certainty not! I would presume they were too shallow to know any better in regards to respecting someone else’s views and judgment; exactly what I would have been guilty of had I “un-friended” them.
I stopped myself in that moment of thinking and realized something really profound. How boring would it be if we all liked the same things? If we all agreed on what’s right, wrong, or even impartial in this world? It would be beyond boring. Life would be too mundane, dull, and uninteresting if it weren’t for the opinions of others. Because someone thinks gay marriage is wrong, letting your baby cry themselves to sleep is the only way, posting 50 pictures a day of their life’s events, or even whether or not it’s alright to breastfeed in public – these discussions, opinions, and right and wrongs all make us who we are. I would really miss out on being open-minded if I always thought my way or the highway when it came to the opinions of others.
My best friend and I have been friends for over 25 years. We disagree with so much in life, but what we do agree on is allowing others to have their voice be heard all the while being nice and respectful. When you see organizations, religious or not, shaming others for what they believe, it’s time to take a double check…on both sides. How do you feel when someone shames you for believing in God or the lack of a God? How about shaming you because your parenting styles don’t match up to Nanny 911’s? Or how are you left to feel when you support your gay friend, but your other friend calls you a sinner for doing so? I know how you feel - you’re angry, crushed, distressed, and just down right feel crummy. I know I don’t want to be responsible for making others feel that way, all because I don’t agree with them.
I have cultivated the notion that I enjoy what’s important to others. We are all here on this sweet Earth to live out our journey. That journey looks different to each individual. At the end of it all, it’s the person staring back at us in the mirror we have to live with. Who do you want glancing back at you? I want an individual that was kind, respectful, and loving of others despite their beliefs and points of views. Remember this, dear readers: You don’t have to compromise your convictions to be compassionate to others.
Until next month…keep peeking in that mirror at your beautiful reflection and reminding yourself to be kind, respectful, and loving of others. I know I will, as soon as I put this dang phone down!
*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*