I'll be honest, I don't really know how to use Facebook. It's a deeply flawed medium, but it's also the one where all of the people are. We have instantaneous access to everyone we've ever met ever, and it's weird to me. It's overwhelming. And yet, we interact with the same 40 or so folks generally and 1-5 dear friends/family members intimately. It's not all that surprising, it's just that one brain can only handle so many things, so many interactions, so many storylines. It's our great limiter as human beings.
But I digress.
Facebook also has this ability to spread news, bring hot-button issues to the forefront, and often spark lively "debate" making it a proverbial 'Town Hall,' with one great exception: it is often interacted with so haphazardly, that it's difficult for good, balanced discourse to happen. Someone can pour hours into a well-crafted, well-researched response to a pressing view point immediately following an event of significance, and someone else on the can scans through the post, takes hot-button statements out of context, and then spews pre-packaged argumentative stances throwing the whole discussion out of wack with no intention of checking back in, or keeping the conversation going. Sort of like dropping a hand-grenade into a playground sandbox and then going to have a sandwich.
To an online format where clicks determine revenue, there is no moderation, no qualification, no filter. Each click is economically equal to the next. But regardless of what the 'ratings' or 'numbers' may claim, these two approaches are not of equal merit.
The difference is: attention and intent.
Unfortunately, there's no way to ascribe either in an immediate, online, written format. It can't be done. People can lie about anything when no one knows where they are/what they're doing at the time. The nuances that make human communication so beautiful, so unique, are muted, non-existent. No tone of voice, eye contact, inflection. All you have are your words. And because people are checking Facebook at points they do not have hours of free-time to attend to meaningful dialogue, it usually always falls flat. No one gets where they wanted to go. Nothing changes. People go on about their day.
They feel as though they had a meaningful interaction.
The emotional response was such that they were with someone in the heat of verbal battle.
I always say I'm a long-form man in a soundbite world, and given its inherently flawed structure, it's difficult for me to engage anyone about anything of substance on Facebook. I'm too damn sensitive. Too old school. I miss looking in someone's eyes, hearing their voice, feeling the tension of shared space.
People say things online they would NEVER say to someone in front of them. People walk away from conversations online that they would NEVER walk away from in person. The truth is, if people want an online interaction to be meaningless, they just decide that it is, and walk away. It's that simple.
An example: Why do we feel that people shouldn't end relationships/break up with someone over text? Doing so in this manner somehow feels cowardly. As if the offender couldn't even do it over the phone, let alone face to face. I imagine it's because it feels an easy way out. It's a way to get a message across without having to go through the stress of an actual human interaction of which they are the aggressor, the breaker, the offendee. It instead places the onus on the reader, rather then the writer. It wipes its hands of the mess it caused and refuses to interact with the fall out. It is the equivalent of using a remote control to manage your life.
It's MUCH MORE DIFFICULT to disregard a human interaction when it happens between actual human beings in physical space.
And so, on that front, I have been a long time silent on issues of importance because I do not Facebook well. I fear someone I know, have met, or even love, may take my words out of the context of my life, the entirety of my relationship with them, or out of the context of ME.
To think that a viewpoint of mine could not be challenged, or isn't open to other arguments, or doesn't want to be stronger having been tested by thoughtful opposing viewpoints, would be entirely inaccurate to who I am and long to be. I want your doubts and rebuttals to feel safe to exist, and were we in the same space, you would know that. Would that I could spend time with all of you discussing well into the night, hearing various viewpoints and taking our time researching and hashing out items of importance. It is those moments that have the ability to bring about change, mutual understanding, or respect. It can bring about a 'life moment' to all who are invested in it. I believe it is the reason why attending live sporting events and live concerts are still so highly valued. It is why conventions still exist. It is how the nation was founded during the Continental Congress rather than through a letter exchange. Presence shows investment. It takes more time and resources to be present somewhere than to phone it in. Quite simply put, it's different when you're there.
You can feel the difference.
But there is Facebook, where a majority of our free time, our headlines, and our news-bites originate. This is where the people are, and I have done a piss poor job of curating meaningful discussion on it because, frankly, I don't really want to. I'd rather see you, and live inside something with you, rather than spit my viewpoint and then wait an indeterminate amount of time to hear yours. It's highly inefficient, and not altogether very REAL. There's no energy to it. There's no humanity in it (save its many imperfections, of course).
I'm nothing, if not a highly emotional and also highly reasonable person (unless I'm hungry) and I want to engage in important things with all of you. So I write songs, and I write blogs, and I sometimes write long Facebook posts in order to invite a dialogue of actual significance in both of our lives, rather than a sound bite of one-sided mic-dropism. I have plenty of those in tow. I want nothing more than to zing them out from time to time just to get my 'superiority rush' for the day.
But I don't.
Because that severs ties, that builds walls, and I want to make sure there is always a bridge for dialogue. I hope every one of my posts, long or short, would leave room in the form of an invitation to ask if you need clarification, especially if it is an important issue. Especially if it is important to you.
You know me. Don't forget that.
Now in light of all of these things, I want to be very clear:
I believe in the fundamental tenants of this great nation, the social contract we have entered into in hopes of forming a more perfect union, and I do my very best to abide by the moral presupposition that all men and women are created equal in the eyes of God.
As such, all people deserve the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in as much as these pursuits, by their nature, do not also infringe upon another's right to do the same.
I take the truth of this for granted often, because to me this is baseline stuff. Civics 101. To me, this is also morally inherent. I understand that not everyone operates out of the same framework as I, but as Americans, you should understand that you must hold these Truths to be self-evident. It's like kindergarten. We all started there. Everything else we discuss stems from this basic principle.
Therefore: ANY organization, religious group, viewpoint, political affiliation, club, church etc. that claims to be distinctly American (or, for that matter, distinctly Christian) cannot hold in their bylaws, their affiliations, or their actions a representative viewpoint that contradicts this tenant. If your aim is to undermine this basic human/American/Christian right then you are, by definition, none of the above.
There is no nuance, no critical thinking exercise, no spin, no weak language that can work its way into the ethos upon which the United States of America was founded and the basic principles upon which civilized society must stand.
Anything other, or in direct opposition to this is a false teaching. A wolf in sheep's clothing. It is, at the very least: Un-American. It is, by some who identify as such: Un-Christian. And it is at its very core: inhumane. An evil to be put out, rebuked, put asunder. Not tolerated. Not invited for a seat at the table. Not placated. Not vaguely mentioned to share blame with other parties.
Destroyed by being won over to the side of the good, put away for having disturbed our shared attempt at domestic tranquility, or burned away on the day of final judgment that we all must inevitably face alone.
I do not take this lightly. I do not accept arguments to the contrary. Please do not test the rest of us who also feel this way. We are stronger. We are legion. We fight for the good side, even when it's losing.
Do not allow history to repeat itself. The long arc of the universe bends towards justice, and we are playing the long game. Not for short, ill-gotten gains, but for eternal ideals such as integrity, honor, compassion, and love. We know that this life is not all there is to our story, but for this moment in time, it is all that we have. And while we're all here, and in this together, EVERYONE deserves better.