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Insults on social media won’t stop me from sharing my voice, but that doesn’t automatically mean that I don’t hear them.
Recently, I received even more hateful comments on my work than I am used to.
Writing about current events comes with the danger of upsetting folks who disagree with me, and that is perfectly fine. I had to learn over time that many readers prefer to insult me on a personal level rather than discussing the actual topic.
If I write an article sharing my thoughts on the current events in Israel, I am not surprised to hear people disagreeing with my perspective. I almost didn’t write about it because I was afraid of the outcry that it might cause.
At the same time, I am asking myself, “Isn’t that what bullies try to achieve with their angry comments?”
But not everyone who disagrees with me is automatically a bully. There are people I admire for their work and personalities who hold different beliefs than I do. If someone writes a rebuttal, criticizes my article, or tells me that I am wrong, I am not mad at them—I actually respect them for doing that.
I know that it is difficult to speak up and disagree with someone we look up to from my own experience. If I don’t care enough, I stay quiet, but I will speak up if I care.
Most people don’t enjoy arguing; some of us are almost allergic to any kind of conflict. Many people rather keep their opinions for themselves, as they are not interested in arguing with friends, family, or strangers on the internet. But what if we really care about something?
If someone decided to openly disagree with me, I try to listen to what they have to say. They might prove me wrong, I might not agree with their opinion, or we are able to find a middle ground—either way, every participant got the chance to share their view.
As a society, we can only achieve progress if we are willing to listen to each other. Open communication is essential to build healthy relationships with others, and that includes dealing with disagreements.
Every time we agree to disagree with someone and maintain our mutual respect, we improve our relationship with that person. It is easier to get along with folks who never question us, but how do we know if they really agree or just decided not to speak up?
A friend once told me that there are three levels of appreciation on social media: liking, commenting, and sharing. I would like to add a fourth level to that: respectfully disagreeing. If someone decides to take the time and write a mindful comment that leads into a conversation, it clearly shows that someone cares. This is the highest form of appreciation because it shows that someone is willing to invest time in exchanging ideas with me.
There is a fine line between respectfully disagreeing and smashing someone’s ideas, and it is not always easy to separate one from the other. But isn’t that what mindfulness is all about? What could be more mindful than listening to folks disagreeing with us and connecting with them by having a respectful conversation?
I believe that we can only make progress as a society if we are willing to listen to each other—and yes, that includes arguing at times. But who knows, maybe we can learn something, maybe we can find a middle ground, and show that we actually care.
Next time you disagree with what someone says or writes, take a moment and ask yourself, “Isn’t it nice that the other person actually cares about this?”
There are so many folks who don’t care about anything and are not willing to spend their time discussing the state of the world—let’s celebrate and respect those who decide to care, even if we disagree with them.
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