“Libtard” “Republicant” “Racist” “Socialist” “Communist” “Muslim” “Dictator” “Hillbilly Party”
Haven’t heard those terms before? You must not have a Twitter account.
With the increasing popularity of social media, especially Twitter, the world has been emboldened with a new sense of courage to say what they would probably not say to someone in person. This has expanded, especially, to political debate. The terms used to describe the different political parties and ideologies. Instead of speaking to one another with respect, both sides of the aisle have resorted to name calling and sarcastic hashtags to humiliate their opponent in political debate. Would these individuals speak this way in a face-to-face debate? Would they have the courage to say things to others that are incredibly insulting or inaccurate? Me thinks not.
Can you imagine sitting down in a restaurant, overhearing the next table discussing political views that you disagree with, turning to that table of diners and calling them low-information libtards or hillbilly racists? It just doesn’t happen. People respect one another in person, saying excuse me when we bump into someone, acting professionally at work, and even avoiding certain topics so as not to engage in a subject that might spark tension. However, on Twitter, it’s as if the demand for civility toward one another is reduced to a mere suggestion. Users of the popular social media site intentionally seek out those they disagree with or address public figures’ accounts with the purpose of expressing their disagreement. This would be acceptable in most cases if the majority of “Tweeps” used the same self-control they display in their ‘offline’ lives. Instead, there are some that seek to insult, use extremist language, and make absurd statements of hate or generalization toward those that think differently than them.
The level of extremist language is growing on both sides. Popular claims that the President is a Muslim, is not a citizen of the United States, wants to destroy the country through an economic collapse, or even purposely watched people die in another country, are running rampant on the Right. Comparatively, the left has engaged in a campaign designed to label all people who are opposed to the President as racists, uninformed hillbillies or rednecks who want to take away the rights of the poor, LGBT, women, and African Americans, or seek to make rich people richer by taking away money from poor people. These claims are simply untrue on both sides, at least for most. But the desire to demonize their opponents in an effort to win an argument have overthrown common sense. There are legitimate questions behind the motives of government officials that can be expressed without using extreme language.
While the “loons” on the left and the right do pop up their heads at, what seems to be, the most inconvenient times, it should not negate the general desire of all political views to improve the country. It is true that the two major parties disagree on most issues which leads to a difference in opinion as to the right path our country should take but it does not imply they seek to destroy our way of life. One person shows up at a gathering of like-minded conservatives and says something racist against blacks; although the conservative community comes out in disgust and disapproval of those statements, the liberals use that one person to accuse the entire conservative movement of being racist. Likewise, when the President and the left advocate for increased regulation on guns, the conservatives go on the attack and say he wants to take away all guns and become a dictator.
Why is it so wrong to have civil debate in which each side listens to what their opponent is saying respectfully, without accusations or name-calling, and responds with their own views and data to back up their views?
I do not believe all liberals want to take away all guns in order to disarm the citizens and I do not believe that all conservatives want to arm everyone with any gun they want in order to promote violence.
I do not believe Obama is a Muslim infiltrator and I do not believe all who oppose Obama are racists either.
I do not think that those who support abortion are out to murder children at will but I also do not believe that all who oppose abortion only care about the unborn and not about the rights of the already born.
I do not believe that the left has a desire to take all of our money and give it to poor people but I do not agree that the right wants to take all money and give it to the rich.
Does this make me any less committed to my pro-life, anti-gun control, pro-business/anti-tax increase, anti-Obama agenda beliefs because I do not see an extreme reason for the views of those I disagree with? No. It just means that I do not look for an extreme explanation for why they think the way they do. I choose to debate in a civil manner without using name-calling as a backup when I can’t think of anything to say. In fact, I have debated with some on the left where the conversation ended with kind words of thanks for being so civil. I have gained and given follow requests to people I do not agree with politically because we were able to disagree with respect and civility which resulted in a Twitter friendship.
I would love to see Twitter users get rid of the “Twitter balls” they grew and go back to being the civil human beings they are in the real world. It would make the online experience so much less infuriating for all of us.