Mutual respect is key in online conversation

As this is my final piece of the year, I’d like to end the semester on a somewhat light note. For once, I’m not going to write about hypocrisy or how I feel about what was recently published in the news. Instead, I want to shine some light on something I’m sure we’ve all noticed about how people speak to one another, even on Concordia’s campus.

A couple months ago I thought I was having a discussion with a mature adult on one of my mom’s Facebook posts, but it turns out this man had no intention of having a productive conversation. Instead of actually arguing with facts, he argued with political cartoons, memes, fake news, and insults. I said I wasn’t going to argue with someone online who wasn’t going to be respectful. He told me he doesn’t give a s*** about respect and as long as he was talking to a “libtard,” he wasn’t going to respect me.

There’s an obvious lack of respect coming from people while speaking to someone with different opinions and values. This is not limited to either side of the political spectrum, although, as you’ve probably noticed in my previous columns, I do believe this sort of behavior comes more from one side more than the other. It doesn’t matter whether we agree with everyone because we don’t have to; it’s okay to disagree with people. However, there’s a difference between respectfully disagreeing and just being completely rude to them. It seems as if the only way we are comfortable speaking to people is by shaming them to elevate ourselves, which is quite despicable.

I believe in telling people why I disagree with them, but I don’t believe in calling someone names or insulting their intelligence because that means your argument no longer holds water. Of course it’s an easy way to argue, because it doesn’t take any original thought to insult someone, but it’s horribly rude. No one should ever reduce an argument down to insults.

There needs to be more listening to understand rather than listening to reply. Too many people are stuck in a mindset that their opinion is the only one worth listening to when that’s simply not the case. Everyone deserves to be listened to, and everyone’s feelings are valid. Listen to people, be respectful, and you shall receive the same treatment. You cannot expect people to respect you when you call them libtards or extremists during a discussion; that’s just not how this works. Now, if someone is saying something completely outlandish or discriminatory, just ignore them. You won’t change their mind through social media.

Speaking to people with respect and the intent to have mutual understanding is more rewarding in the end because there’s no vitriol in the conversation. Everyone should strive to reach a level of civility in conversation with others. It takes stress off of the person you’re speaking to’s shoulders, as well as your own. There are no losers when there’s mutual respect in a conversation.

If someone starts insulting you, you don’t need to be a part of that conversation. You don’t need to sit there and allow someone who doesn’t even know you to attempt to humiliate you. Walk away from it and refrain from adding to their negativity because there’s no need for that kind of behavior.

I’m not the poster child for civil conversation and mutual respect, and I’ll be the first to admit that it’s challenging; however, it’s important to practice. Mutual understanding and civility is most important because we don’t have to reduce discussion to insults and vitriol; our inability to maintain polite conversation is what divides us. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been called a libtard for my views for just trying to have a discussion with a conservative. While I’m bothered by conservatives’ inability to converse with liberals, I’m bothered by liberals who won’t listen to an even slightly conservative viewpoint. Like I said, this isn’t isolated to one side, it’s a problem many contribute to.

Please, practice being civil in conversations with others because if not, you will not gain the respect. Don’t allow another person’s negativity to alter how you conduct yourself in political conversation. There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with others, and if someone uses vitriolic language, walk away from the conversation. Don’t add to the negativity. Strive for civility and mutual respect because we can’t go on like this. We only divide ourselves more when we don’t listen to and respect each other.

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