Before the holiday season, I had quite a heated argument on Facebook with one of my oldest best friends. Now this may be nothing for most people, especially in today’s society where online commenting is a norm, but this was a new thing for me.
I’ve made it a point a long time ago to never engage in online debates. I’ve had my share of trolling way back when blogging was still in its infancy – I was both trolled and had trolled someone else.
But these days, the vitriol online is so toxic it’s just not worth swimming in it. That’s why I surprised myself (and my friend) that I ended up adding comment after comment to her Facebook status. I didn’t even realise just how affected I was by it all until I was forced to step back and look at it objectively.
We were arguing about same sex marriage. She is against it and I am for it. We put argument after argument, trying to convince each other why our points were more correct than the other’s. But, as expected, the conversation became heated. So much so that my friend asked why I was attacking her when she didn’t even say anything when I posted my own status the previous week celebrating the passing of Australia’s same sex marriage bill.
I took a deep breath and paused. She was right. If I had to look at all my friends – near and far – there are many issues we don’t agree on. I have educated friends who are pro-Duterte and educated friends who are anti-Duterte. I have friends who don’t believe in same sex marriage and I have friends who do believe in same sex marriage.
I have friends who have different religious beliefs – Catholic, agnostic, Muslim, Christian, Protestant, atheist. But we still all get along. I realised I was putting my own expectations on my friend when in reality, we always had different beliefs even when we were in highschool. She was, and still is, the super conservative to my ultra liberal views. She had always been the same, never wavering from her personality. Why did I expect her to believe differently?
It is the same with my friends, family and relatives. They all have their sides. They all have their own beliefs. If I get upset every time I find out about their differing view, I won’t have any friends or family left.
So how do we ensure there is peace?
For one, avoid talking about politics and religion. Easy to say but hard to do, I know. It’s not really a full proof plan either. So why not consider this.
Know how much that person means to you, truly means to you. Think hard whether or not you want this person in your life forever. Also think hard whether or not this person is a good human being. Do you think having this person in your life would enrich your existence in this world? Or would you only end up waddling in toxic fumes every time you’re close to the person?
If the person is worth it, then, as Elsa harped on about in Frozen, let it go. Just let it go. Continue to believe what you believe in and let them do the same. Pull your conversation out of public social media if you really need to discuss things. Do it in private instead.
And finally, discuss the merits of the argument and don’t make it personal. Only the stupid ones make it personal.
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Kristyn M. Levis is a freelance writer, author and photographer based in Sydney. She is currently the managing editor of Her Collective and creative director of 3C Digital. Her first novel, The Girl Between Two Worlds, was published in 2016. Book two, The Girl Between Light and Dark, is set for release this year.