Why is it that when we see something on the internet and feel like we disagree with it, we immediately tell the person posting the content that they are wrong? Shouldn’t we at least assume that we may not fully understand their position? And if we make that assumption, shouldn’t we proceed by asking them to elaborate on why they hold that position rather than our own? Perhaps I am naive, but it seems that this one simple step would dramatically change how we view and interact with on another.
If You Write It, They Will Comment
As nice as it would be if we could give one another the benefit of the doubt, it does require one reads the article in question before questioning it. During my journey as an author, promoting my own work on social media, I have come to discover that this just does not happen. When I post an article, I usually get quite a few likes or upvotes, but through the power of modern analytics, I can easily see that only about 15 percent of the people who react to my post actually read it. In fact, many times I will get more engagement in the comments over something that is completely off-topic from the article, something that was assumed based entirely on the title and excerpt used for the post.
Again, I may be naive, but I set out to help change the world through my writing, not through my social media posts. Unfortunately, it appears as though our social media posts provide much more influence than any blog post or book we could ever write. People get caught up in the title of a post, or the excerpt to which they take offense without context, and they never actually click on the article. How can someone know how they feel about an article without having ever read it?
Is my situation unique or uncommon? Perhaps, but I am inclined to assume it is rather standard. As I read through my daily news feed, I see the same situation unfold. I read an article, then look at the comments and find debates occurring that are entirely unrelated to what was actually written. It is rather alarming to see these things play out in a representative republic, the United States is not a democracy, where the electorate direly needs to remain informed of the actions of their representatives.
“Wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government”Thomas Jefferson to Richard Price, Library of Congress
I don’t want to delve too far into politics, mostly because I despise endless debates with those who would rather mischaracterize an administration than fervently discuss solutions (this is all parties, in case you were wondering), but I would like to state that we will need to shape media so that it can impart information to such an easily distracted audience. I believe this is why videos automatically play in our news feeds, if they did not, we would simply debate the implications of the title without ever watching the video. Perhaps this is one solution, but I wonder if there is any redemption for the written form?
At any rate, thank you for obliging my rant.. If you have even read this far. It may be fun to test this theory with action. If you could, please comment on this post in social media with “Reading is fun!” and lets see how many actually read this article.