There’s been a trend that has advanced as our electronic tools have outstripped our good sense, our common decency and our impulse control.
The trend can be heard in phrases such as “my Twitter feed blew up” or “Facebook melted down.”
When the popular media narrative drives emotional responses to hot button issues, surrounding topics such justice, identity, legal decisions or social depredations to push up ratings and gather attention, the population in the United States now has the tools and know how, to take to Twitter and Facebook and express displeasure, disgust or even to “poke the bear.”
The social contract is breaking down, not because people have the tools to express opinions from the peanut gallery, but because every peanut in the gallery has access to the tools in the first place.
But, we in the field of ADR shouldn’t get mad at the Internet or social media. After all, we either actively or passively, participated in building the media that we have right now.
We shouldn’t throw up our hands in disgust and walk away, tune out, turn off and drop off the “map.” We also probably shouldn’t engage, foment and otherwise stir the pot more, with anything but affirmations of peace and solutions to complicated issues.
We have taken the words of the Declaration of Independence, and the admonitions and arguments of dead 18th, 19th and 20th century white male philosophers to heart, but unfortunately, we have taken them to heart—and to task—using tools and social spaces that weren’t really designed for nuanced observation, conversation and peacebuilding.
The popular narrative is exactly that—a story—and we as individuals are under no obligation to spread the story, comment on the story, or even to believe the story.
We are under obligation, as peacemakers, to point out alternatives to the dominate narrative, no matter from whom—the majority or the minority—it may spring, and offer a path toward the Truth.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org