Through My Eyes

Social media debates: the good, the bad and the ugly

Social media debates: the good, the bad and the ugly

I have always had a healthy interest in political matters. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in ensuring that everyone was treated fairly. 

Going into education, working with the challenging boys was always my favourite part of the role; I so desperately wanted to help them to get them to be treated equally, even if their behaviour could be somewhat unusual at times. 

Facebook has been a platform on which many people have shared their views for well over a decade now. Discussions have been ongoing for years over whether it is a positive or negative force. As with many things in life, experiences are personal to the individual and it is not as straight cut as people would like it to be. 

At the beginning of lockdown, I made my views pretty clear on Facebook concerning school closures for the majority. I’m a union rep and felt that all the NEU (National Education Union) had to say on the matter was spot on. Of course, I received criticism. I did get wound up by a couple of comments and did snap at one point. In my defence, it was gone midnight, and I needed to sleep, but that was evading me because I was so worried. I could not see how others did not share that feeling. However, all water under the bridge now and discussions were had in private regarding the precise nature of the argument. 

Nine times out of ten, it’s the subject matter causing me issues rather than the actual debate itself. I like to read about other people’s points of view, even if I disagree with them. I am open to people sharing with me their thoughts and responses to things I have shared. Facebook is, after all, a place where conversations can be had. It’s an excellent forum for that!

Unfortunately, the ugly side has reared its head on a couple of occasions. If I have posted something on my page and a Facebook friend wishes to comment on it, disagreeing with me or otherwise, that is ok. It is like sharing my views when in a large group of people. I am open to comments and opinions to the contrary. 

However, I have received several messages from one person in particular during lockdown. He was too cowardly to comment on my posts, and he sent private messages instead. I had already elaborated on all of the points he raised. He told me I was wrong. He said that I am entitled to my own political beliefs, but they are wrong. Not that he thought they were incorrect, but that they were.

In addition to this, personal attacks were made on my nature. I told him that enough was enough, and if it continued, I would have to block him. Only once did he apologise for being rude although that was coupled with a clause stating he didn’t think he had been. I have not blocked him, but I have put him on limited profile to avoid him seeing everything I post. I feel that this was my best option given that I would like to focus on positive mental health.

I am happy to debate. I enjoy it, in fact. What I am not prepared to do is be subject to personal attacks which lack intelligence and substance. 

It seems like a very long time since the #bekind campaigns. Please, I am begging you, consider how your words are going to make someone feel before you type them, and press send. Disagree with someone, by all means, but do not turn it into a personal attack.

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