Before you post that

By Tracee Aliotti

I have something that’s been tugging at my heart. It’s about a behavior I frequently see on Facebook, but it can be found on most any social platform. No one reading this asked for my opinion, and no particular post or person provoked my writing this. It’s just something I wanted to get out of my head and share.

I primarily use social media to share in both the celebrations and sadnesses of my life and those of others. For me, it’s a community of mostly light connections, but connection nonetheless. I respect this community and genuinely care about the lives and experiences of each person — no matter how different they are from my own. I use social media to draw closer to people. People like me and people not so much like me.

Sometimes I’ll be scrolling through my feed and see one of my connections has shared a meme, post, article, etc. that promotes one way of thinking while being demeaning of another. These posts seem to often be political or religious, but not always.

And whether I agree with the post or not, I often think, “What does this person want?” “What do they feel?” “What do they want me to feel?” And while I doubt the intention is to hurt, offend, and further polarize people who think differently than they do — those are all too often the outcomes.

I’m a scroller. Not a troller. But I’m starting to wonder if my silence is really any better.

So here are my “Before you post that what ifs.” What if you shared your difference in opinion in a way that provoked intrigue and empathy rather than frustration and polarity? What if your endgame was to get responses like, “Wow — I hadn’t thought about it that way.” Or, “I still disagree, but respect your viewpoint.” What if you entirely rejected engaging with content that’s passive aggressive or divisive? What if by doing so you played a small part in stopping the spread of hate and helped spread more love, empathy, and compassion? What if everything you posted or read on social media was an invitation to learn more, not judge more?

Here is a challenge for us all — before you post or share something, ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” “How do I want others to feel upon seeing it, and is this what I want?” What if we stopped using our social feeds as weapons for mass division and instead as powerful tools for unity?

Doing this doesn’t mean we don’t post the difficult things — it just changes how and why we do it. Educate over offend. Teach over taunt. Question over criticize.

It’s easy to retreat to our corners and push others into theirs — it takes courage and creativity to step toward the center and invite others to stand there with you.