My new favorite expression is ‘it’s better to be effective than right’. Because the ‘rhetorical’ question: ‘Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy?’ infers that to be happy you must surrender your point of view or acquiesce to something you feel is unjust.  

You may keep the peace by doing so, but that does not necessarily make you happy.

Happiness is a byproduct of many things.  It’s basically any positive feeling. We feel happy when we’re satisfied, while we’re laughing, when we see that who we are is received with love. 

It also makes an appearance when we accomplish something and can acknowledge that we have been effective at that aim.

Perhaps you wish to be more effective at raising awareness around an issue. So you go ahead and post a provocative video on social media … .and instead of it resonating with your audience, you find yourself dragged through Twitter (excuse me…X). You find yourself embroiled in an endless  tit-for-tat that bleeds you of anything resembling feeling heard or feeling happiness.

Instead of cultivating awareness, you’ve contributed to polarization around the very issue you wanted to illuminate: People are digging their heels in, not considering your point of view.

While the original post may very well have conveyed a matter you’re passionate about and a point of view you’d like others to consider, it was clearly ineffective…. 

Which begs the question: What might have been?

What might have been more effective than posting something created by someone else of a controversial nature just because it resonated and entertained you?

Our continuing to do just that is largely how our respective echo chambers have developed.   We all must take some responsibility in creating these unfortunate algorithms.

But back to solution-focused thinking: Social media isn’t going anywhere, and staying off of it may be important to your sanity, but I doubt it will be what creates change, anymore than turning off your own computer. How we engage with it is.  

Memes and videos are the lazy enemies of civil discourse. Don’t underestimate your own ability to express an idea in your own words. 

It’s painstaking, but I find the results of my posts are far better when they present my POV in a non-combative way, meaning that I don’t just make a statement, but present an issue and invite input via posing a query with regards to the matter ie: “I think such and such is a belief based on a lack of historical context because…..what do you think?”

Usually a pretty intelligent, civil and conversational thread ensues.  I am proactive in ultimating against any snarky, rhetorical questions or remarks. Such remarks are often clear attempts to shame. They are not what would be uttered over coffee in person to somebody. 

With the threat of removal and given a chance, people usually amend themselves. If not, I remove them from the conversation, as promised.

I fear that this upcoming election season will likely produce a quagmire of viciousness and misinformation on the internet unlike anything to date. On social media, whether or not I change anyone’s mind, I consider instigating what ensues as a civil discourse to be an effective shift towards a more constructive dynamic. 

And when that  happens, it makes me happy.

Apart from staying out of it all, which I confess I do most of the time, how do you try to constructively share your opinion so that there is a chance of some worthwhile exchange of ideas?