Thursday, August 2, 2012

Advice from the Opinionated about Opinions

The topic of sharing one's opinion has been on my mind for several weeks now. Why? Well, facebook of course! Facebook is such an interesting place to "people watch" if you will. And I've always been a people watcher. I've also always been very driven by learning and logic. And I'm also quiet opinionated.

Just wanted to put all those things out there, as if anyone reading this didn't already know.

A few weeks ago I wanted to share some "Rules for Facebook."  I really only thought of three.

1. Don't share your opinion if you are going to get mad at people who disagree with it.
2. Don't make personal attacks. Attacking an opinion is healthy debate, attacking the individual who expresses an opinion is NEVER appropriate. Never!
*If you don't know the difference between the two, please come visit my (former) 8th grade classroom. It's a language standard all 12-year-olds must learn.
3. Friends enjoy your life's updates, so share ... but don't share too much.  For example, if you loose 20 lbs let us know, and we'll celebrate with you ... but there is no need to give us the details of every gym visit along the way.

I'd be perfectly content if the owners of facebook had everyone click a little "agree" button to the above three rules before becoming a member of the online community.

To illustrate #1 and #2, I'll refer to this whole Chick-Fil-A drama. First, I must admit I haven't followed the story very closely, but the few details I know tell me it is akin to many of the facebook threads I read where rules #1 and #2 are repeatedly broken.

A little background: the owner of Chick-Fil-A doesn't like Gay Marriage and is very vocal about his family and his company representing these "Southern Christian Values." And by "very vocal", I mean he has given several millions of his moula to fight against Gay Marriage.

Some analysis: Is it wrong for him to have this opinion? No!  Is it wrong for him to share it? No! Is it wrong for him to use his money defending his opinion? No!

A little more background: Supporters of Gay Marriage are outraged by his actions and have decided to boycott the company.

Some analysis: Is it wrong for people to refuse to patron a place because they disagree with it's conduct and values? No!

So, it would seem no one has done anything wrong, right? Well then why in the world is my facebook homepage riddled with people choosing sides? Why do we live in a world where it is so hard for people to have differing opinions? Why must personal attacks always follow shared opinions?

To run off task a little here, I must say that I've become less and less likely to appreciate the term "agree to disagree." You see, I have many conservative friends (I'm LDS afterall) and I have found that when discussing ANY political issue there is always a point at which a liberal and a conservative can agree. The people who seem to refuse any sort of "agreement" when I discuss politics with them are usually not very knowledgable conservatives. I know, that is mean to say ... but it's true. I've found that people who refuse to make any small agreement with me do so simply because their own opinions are weak. They simply fear my "liberal-ness" and that leaves them with no solution but to try and disagree with everything I say. Which is totally silly, and usually leads to the above mentioned personal attacks.

Which brings me back on track, if you can't see a point of agreement making a personal attack is not appropriate.

People refusing to eat at Chick-Fil-A is NOT a personal attack. It is a personal choice held by an individual as to how they want to spend their money. Calling those individuals intolerant IS a personal attack.

Since when did our refusal to spend our money how we want to spend it turn into intolerance? Have we become such a consumerist society that we don't want anyone to think about how they spend their money? We just want them to spend, spend, spend. Complete non-sense.

Let the owner of the company have his opinion, and let people choose to spend their money however they want. Stop with the name calling! And please, recognize the difference. If my 12-year-old students can recognize the difference between expressing their own statement of belief and making a personal attack against someone else, I'm sure the grown-ups who dominate the world of social media can figure it out as well.

I think I may have too much faith in grown-ups.


Megan said...

This is an awesome post, Liz! I have only one critique... If Facebook required everyone to click "Agree" to those rules, I don't think people would read them and it would be about as effective as all the other "click-wrap" agreements we assent to. BUT, you're totally right. We should all obey those rules. If people want to boycott, let them boycott. If people want a "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day" let 'em have it. We can all choose to show our support for different morals and values in different ways. Frankly, I'm not too keen on a lot of corporate donations, but I live within half a mile of Target and just don't have the time to make a statement about how they spend their money. And with the high prices of so many items in Connecticut, I don't really have the money to spend more at some other store just to make a statement. On the other hand, I fully support traditional marriage and families and I'm glad that someone out there is willing to publicly take some flak for supporting those values. However, we don't have a Chick-Fil-A by us and even if we did I wouldn't have two hours to go wait for my lunch! Anyway, you summed it up really well and it baffles me that in America we've resorted to labeling everyone who disagrees with us as intolerant. I think if we have to resort to that label, then what we are really saying is "I don't tolerate you because you disagree with me."

Polly Blevins said...

Agreed to all. I don't understand why people have to turn everything into something controversial (even if it is not fighting about it makes it lose it's emotional power). I must admit though, if I had known about the whole thing with Chick-Fil-A, I would have gone to support them. I wouldn't have said anything to the protesters but I would have been there. Does that make me gasoline adding fuel to the fire?

Scott and Claudia said...

And now for your father...
I loved our post. Spot on. When will you be running for office? We need a sensible person like yourself running this here country, dontcha think?
I've never eaten at Chick-Fil-A and I never will!!! I respect both sides of the issue as well, but as usual, I am on the "opposite" side of the fence from the religious right. Does that make me on the right side or the wrong side for the fence? Your readers will most definitely have an opinion about that. So do I.
Love you sis!!! Good night... Pa

Sarah Pittard said...


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