Thursday, November 12, 2015
Let's say you and your partner "Kris" are going through a divorce. It is important to finalize the paperwork quickly because your kids are involved, not to mention the costs associated with litigation and the entire process. And of course, the mental and emotional stress associated with this ordeal weighs heavily on you both.
It's a complicated situation. There are many assets to divide up...there's a visitation schedule to work out...numerous factors. Unfortunately, you're deadlocked on all of it because both sides feel they're in the right.
What should happen is both parties finding compromise through effective communication in order to achieve a resolution. Instead, you and Kris avoid starting a dialogue, and you jump on social media. You post on Facebook, publicly admonishing Kris for their behavior and actions. You detail all the times Kris has wronged you and your children. Kris starts tweeting your indiscretions, painting you as a one-dimensional Bond villain.
Friends and neighbors get involved. Some take your side, while others side with Kris. Some are concerned about your children. "What about the children," they say repeatedly. A couple of them worry your pets are being neglected. All have strong opinions, regardless of how much this divorce directly affects them. All feel the need to emotionally express themselves and their points of view online.
Memes are created so that Captain Picard and Willy Wonka can weigh in on the subject. YouTube videos are recorded showing pasty-faced talking heads ranting in untidy bedrooms with bad lighting. GoFundMe pages are created for both sides so that you can continue the good fight.
Hashtags are created and start trending:
Think pieces are written. Some for you...some against you...many say the issue is bigger than you. It's about justice. No, it's about the sanctity of marriage. No, it's about ALL THE CHILDREN! And they're all written with the right amount of smugness and snark to create a personal sense of rightness for the author and to elicit validation from like-minded readers.
And still, you and Kris continue to talk on social media and not to each other.
Why? Why won't you start a real conversation...one that involves truly listening and that utilizes empathy for that other human being, free of ego?
Because it's hard. Because it is easier to just shout an opinion on a virtual soapbox. Because you'd rather be right than reach an understanding or agreement that might cost you something. Because you're selfish and stupid.
We are all very, very stupid.