Is Social Media Contributing to the Anger?

There’s absolutely no excuse for the violence that took place last week in Dallas, Texas. No one can stand and justify a sniper willing to shoot innocent people for the anger that he held in his heart for whatever reason.

There’s no excuse for the senseless killings of black males in the videos we see playing over and over again.  I watched a montage the other night of the videos  of law enforcement doing a job that seems (at least in the videos, and I’m no expert on law enforcement) to be over the top.  One man was even chased down on foot and run over by a police vehicle and killed because of the suspicion that turned out to be his own Motor Vehicle Accident asking for help.  CRAZY stuff like that.

There’s no excuse for two african american police officers who shot a white male to death last week during the same time the Dallas news was streaming 24-7.

So my experience in youth, working in faith circles, and having friends of all races, religions, political parties, and ethnic groups; I find myself asking

WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?

Of course if you believe a certain worldview, i.e. all cops are hunting down African American Youth; you watch a few videos, go to a protest, and all of the sudden your worldview can be confirmed.

But if you believe that law enforcement is innocent and are under attack on the other hand, all you need to do is show up to the opposite news stations and you can have your worldview confirmed.

The Truth you want to find is out there depending on what information you’re willing to listen to.

This morning, I’m finding this whole issue disturbing at so many levels.  And I know it’s a hot issue, so I know the comments on this particular post are going to be more heated than any other, but I think it’s important we all slow down here a second and try to figure out what is causing all this anger?

There’s no question there are evidences of racial issues still percolating at a high level in American Today.  If there was a pendulum with extremes on both sides…

1.) My white friends would somehow excuse themselves from any racism claiming “The Civil War ended in 1865.”  They would claim the Black Lives Matter movement is something of a fraud and of course All Lives Matter. etc. etc.  They would solicit the Civil Rights Movement as the beginning of a fair society.  And they would look to my African American Friends with a look of doubt as if to say, “This isn’t 1950.  We’re not racist.”

2.) My African American friends would say something to the effect that our  Criminal Justice numbers point to a bias in our system.  It’s a fact, there  are more African  American Men are incarcerated than any other race.  They have voiced the frustration with discriminatory measures they put up with when driving and being pulled over etc.  And I can say, as a father of an African American Middle Schooler, There is a difference. People look at us weird, they ask derogatory questions, and are often looking to see if my son has stolen something in a store.  So to say racism doesn’t exist is not fair either.

But we’ve been like this for a long time.  We’ve been slowly working to eliminate this idea of racism from America since the beginning.  Abraham Lincoln waged a country’s war on it.  Martin Luther King Jr. walked miles to highlight injustice and stop it.  The Supreme Court has upheld Affirmative Action, and the Labor Department screens for racial injustice in hiring and firing all the time.

It just seems like we’re taking some great steps forward, but in the last three to five years we’ve taken a generational step backwards.  So what’s going on?

I wonder…

Of course we can’t blame shootings, death, and injustice on one area of life .
Of course we can come together and say Black Lives Matter.
We can come together and say Blue Lives Matter.
We can even trump them all and say All lives matter (each three statements holding a different meaning and individually important.)

We can highlight economic issues that lead to injustice
We can scan for social issues that seem to be unfair in certain instances.
We can even incite the fear of another to help try and make sense of it all
But I can’t find any area that would give someone the justification to kill another.

There’s no justice in sniping cops in Dallas.
There’s no justice in choking a man to death who sells illegal cigarettes.
There’s no justice in the current shooting outside the Michigan Courthouse.
There’s no justice in shooting a man in the middle of the street for stealing cigars.

One thing I have noticed, and I would propose that we just examine this as a possibility; I’ve seen more and more hatred being spewed online through social media than I ever heard in elementary school, college, or even the beginning of my adult life.   I never heard anyone call anyone “Hitler” to their face.  I never heard the vile talk at basketball games, fraternity parties, or even the old hunting camps I went to in small town Missouri.  There just wasn’t a place for people to just spew the thoughts they had in their head in front of another without some civil discourse.  But today…all you have to do is log on to your social media feed and it’s right there for all to see.

It’s almost like there’s a fertile bed of hatred just bubbling on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and snapchat, giving people the right to say outlandish ideas they never would say in a public forum.

Could it be, that in a society that values the number of followers and the amount of comments on an article instead of the value of the story of each individual human involved in these awful atrocities, we’ve lost the ability to be Civil?

Could it be, the worldview that we hold in our hearts that seems so logical, has no way to engage with the ideas and thoughts of another?  This isolation then would create the tribal notion around race, religion, ethnicity, and background.  It would naturally lead to more and more US vs. THEM conflict.  Just look at the protests happening on both sides of this issue.

It seems like the pro-police protestors are often white, and the Black Lives Matter are often all African American.  Right down the middle.  Is that right?  Is that fair?  Is that a nation willing to challenge itself to understand the thoughts and ideas of another?

My heart is sad to watch America drift into the seas of racial divide, when we’ve come SO FAR!!  Of course we have work to do.  Of course there will always be extremists.  But maybe we can start our own individual responses by beginning with the screen before our eyes.

The next time you feel the urge to write something derogatory to someone else (no matter their race) online, take a step back.  Don’t give into the urge to spew hate to another.  Instead of making declarative statements, maybe ask a question to understand where someone else is coming from.  If you see someone is trending toward an idea that you don’t agree with, try to understand instead of trying to be Right.

As a friend of mine said this weekend, “I always change my views after reading what people post on my Facebook feed.  It’s just so intellectual.” (HIGH SARCASM FONT NEEDED)

I know this is a shot in the dark, but could social media be the hotplate where much of this hatred is emerging?

I don’t know…What do you think?

2 Comments

  1. Bro… Great thoughts. I seriously have been so frustrated by all of the talk on Facebook, twitter, etc. that further encourages hatred, rigid thinking and one-sided arguments. The reason this situation is so complex is because there is so much truth on each front. Rather than picking sides and vehemently “truth telling” – I would love to see some dialogue with confession, tension and genuine desire to learn. Maybe we should start getting gatherings together in our cities to cry (or emote however is appropriate), confess, and commit to learn together on how we can grow together. This one sided blasting is just further proving how divided we really are.

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