The world is being brought closer together yet the people are being pushed apart.
As history unfolds before us, I’m concerned about the direction in which we seem to be heading. However, I’m left to ponder just how much things have changed. I wonder how many similar events were happening throughout history without us hearing about them. One thing that most definitely has changed is that almost everyone these days has immediate access to the world in his or her pocket. When any tragedy occurs these days, we learn about it within hours, sometimes minutes. So, history is literally unfolding before our eyes – in our hands.
You no longer have to be qualified as a news reporter to report the news, and there are rarely consequences when everyday citizens report “facts” incorrectly. Even some members of the media, in an attempt to be the first with the scoop, report without checking facts. To enhance the stories, everywhere you turn, there is a camera recording images and/or videos which can be uploaded immediately. The world is being brought closer together yet the people are being pushed apart.
The advances in technology have provided us with smart phones and tablets that are affordable enough for most people to have at least one. The expansive news coverage invites commentary from both experts and everyday citizens like myself. People voice their thoughts on the platforms provided by social media and their “friends” and followers reply with comments. A person in small-town America can, by use of a hashtag, make her thoughts known to a person in the far reaches of the world. These people can engage in immediate dialogue concerning a developing topic. The conversations stretch across races, classes, nations. These conversations could bring about positive change, but all too often, they only enhance the negative.
People are so anxious to share their thoughts quickly that little time is taken to collect and organize those thoughts in advance. In the past, a person would set up a meeting and prepare for days before engaging in discussion with someone outside his or her social circle. This is no longer the case. In today’s world, a politician can make an offhanded comment, someone can post it on his public Facebook page, you can post your own comment to tell him what you think about it, and he can respond – all within less than thirty minutes. We have never before lived in such a connected world.
I’m afraid that these connections are contributing to the problems we are now seeing. Every time something bad happens now, we immediately hear about it. Oftentimes we hear about the news on Facebook or Twitter before we even see or hear the media coverage. We are bombarded with the thoughts and opinions of those around us, and some view these as opportunities to try to win over the hearts and minds of others. So many people think that they need to comment on every post or article with which they disagree in an attempt to sway others to join their side without stopping to realize that this rarely happens. What happens instead is that arguments begin. Others chime in, and before you know it, you are arguing with people you do not even know. The words become vile and the hate begins to brew. People read the comments and choose sides, and the division begins.
Another thing that social media has contributed is a platform through which protests can be organized far and wide on extremely short notice. In the past, in order to gather a large group for a protest, you had to spend weeks spreading the word. That is now done in minutes. When something happens, the news is posted, arguments ensue, groups are divided, talk of protests begins, all in record time. A protest involving hundreds or even thousands can be organized and carried out before nightfall in a large city. The part of this equation that is not equal to the past is the organization factor. Instead of planning and working together, ideas are thrown out and acted upon in the heat of the moment. Oftentimes, this seems to result in unrest and injury to the protesters and law enforcement. Maybe we should just slow down for the protection of those on both sides.
When I awaken each morning these days, I am fearful of the news that awaits me. I’m afraid another innocent life was taken. I’m not choosing sides here because I do not believe there is a side to choose. To put it simply, I choose God.
Innocent people of all races, religions, and classes are losing their lives. I don’t know if this happened this often in the past without my knowing, but this is the reason I choose not to watch the news. I see enough of the hate each time I scroll through Facebook or Twitter. We must begin to spread love through the world, not hate. We must put an end to the divisiveness.
It is okay to hate wrongdoing without turning upon an entire group of people. When acts of violence occur, let’s limit our anger to those directly involved. If an officer wrongfully takes the life of an unarmed man, be angry at that officer – not all officers. If a person wrongfully takes the life of an officer, be angry at that man – not everyone of the same race. Learn to read the opinions of others without feeling the need to argue that they are wrong. Accept that there are differences of opinions and realize that no matter what you say or do, some people will always believe differently.
We have a better chance of returning to peace with the spread of love than with the spread of hate. Let’s allow God to be the judge and simply follow His commandment to love thy neighbor. We can do better than this, people. We have to.