We’ll call it the Golden Rule of the Digital Age: tweet others how you wish to be tweeted. Like the real Golden Rule, I don’t always practice it, but it’s a pretty good way to avoid becoming a troll.
Recently, I tweeted about my growing discomfort with (proclaiming) Christians who support Trump and his policies. Here’s what I said:
As with most things on the Internet that get a lot of attention, I received a fair amount of vitriol in response to this post. The conservatives who responded mostly talked about something terrible they believe Hillary did, liberals “killing babies,” or they just called me a “libtard.”
I’ve been in the public eye long enough to know that the most hurtful thing you can do to a troll is ignore them, so I don’t respond to these folks (most of the time). A few people simply wanted more information on my position, while others promised to pray for me (that’s one of my favorite passive aggressive responses).
While I do enjoy crafting a tweet that can succinctly characterize my position on something, and I get particular joy when a joke lands, I attempt to limit my online activity to content that I would be comfortable reading/receiving. I prefer to avoid low-hanging fruit (but, the #GoldenShower day on Twitter made that particularly difficult), and I try not to attack people personally. Except Kellyanne Conway–I’m not made of steel, people.
In the case of this tweet, I think a lot about what I see as a peculiar cognitive dissonance between what many Christians say they believe and their support for what Trump is saying/implementing. Their allegiance to him even after “Pussygate” shocked me. And I’m not easily shocked my conservatives. Without going into a diatribe about Christianity and conservatism, I think following Jesus should resemble something very far from what I see amongst many conservatives at the moment.
You may wonder why I would bother to tweet about this when anyone who has ever read online comments sections knows people online are often unreasonable.
I choose to tweet about politics because I believe it actually makes a difference. I know people say social media is just an echo chamber of like-minded people nodding along with each other, but I am evidence that providing information or an opposing point of view can change people’s minds.
As many of you know, I used to be a Republican and an evangelical. My philosophical shift happened only after I read and learned a lot of things that made me uncomfortable, and shook the foundation of everything I thought I knew for sure. I had spirited debates with liberals and atheists. And I listened–a lot.
Adhering to the tradition in which I was raised was very comfortable, but certainty doesn’t last long if you’re willing to listen (REALLY listen) to people who disagree with you.
For the record, I still read books by authors with whom I vehemently disagree. I try to engage with sincere people in real life and online who hold beliefs that are antithetical to mine. Sometimes they make me think and put me on a path to discover more. Sometimes they don’t.
So my aim in tweeting things like the example above isn’t to be provocative or snarky for the sake of a punchline or meaningless jab. It’s to make people think. People taking the time to challenge my beliefs changed my life, so I want to do the same for others. I’m practicing the digital Golden Rule.
Now, be warned, if you follow me on social media, and Trump’s Russian pee tapes are leaked (so to speak), well, all bets are off.
You can follow me on Twitter here, but consider yourself warned.