Social media is a wonderful tool. Anyone can use it. That, sadly, is also its biggest drawback.
I tend to accumulate pet peeves using sites like Facebook and Twitter. Mostly, it’s just opinions and posts that irritate me. Not really a big deal. I’m sure my posts irritate some people, too. Free speech includes the right to offend and be offended.
However, one in particular has been vexing me lately.
“We should be talking about blah blah issue instead of this other issue.”
“I’m sick of hearing about such and such, because what’s really important is blah blah!”
Hate to say this, but that’s (usually) a lazy argument. It also lacks empathy.
Yes, some issues can be underreported. And it’s good to point out when they are. But people don’t always say that. It becomes personal. Sometimes what people are really saying is, “Issue A is actually more important (to me), so stop talking about Issue B.”
News and issues aren’t so complex that we can only focus on one at a time. Should we prioritize? Sure. But complaining that one issue should stop being discussed in favor of another is the wrong tact. There is – or should be – room enough in our minds to think about, and address more than one topic at once.
How about saying, “It’s great that we’re talking about this, but remember that this other issue is also important.”
No? Sound corny?
I don’t debate that some issues are more dire than others. However, in many cases, that’s still really subjective.
There are multiple problems in our world that deserve both media attention, and public focus. Global warming, racial injustice, extreme income/wealth inequality, the increasing threat of nuclear hostility from Vladimir Putin, deteriorating national infrastructure, marginalization of LGBT people, and the rise of the national security state, to name but a few.
Each one is important. Can we rank them in order of importance? Maybe.
Surely Putin’s saber-rattling could potentially lead to global annihilation. But wait – he’s really not suicidal. Global warming is going to be catastrophic to our economy, our enviroment, our coastal cities. Surely that’s what’s most important.
Ehhh… that’s all still decades off. Right now, LGBT citizens are only beginning to see the same sort of rights that straight people have. Certainly, that’s an immediate issue.
Well, don’t forget, people of color have spent centuries in the Unites States being marginalized, abused, and enslaved. Racial discrimination is the biggest problem we face.
And so on.
The order of importance varies from person to person. And that makes sense. What one chooses to concentrate on is a personal choice, and impossible for others to dispute.
There are some who don’t think some or even all of the above issues are problems (they would be wrong). And that’s their right to think that way.
But, saying that we need to drop one in favor of another is insulting and unnecessary. We all can focus, as people, on more than one task. Racism and LGBT rights are both significant (and sometimes overlapping) issues. Economic policy, trade policy, and global warming all affect each other. Very little exists in a vacuum.
We’re are all stuck on this same rock, all 7 billion of us. Perhaps we need to come to an understanding that the issues which affect some of us, will either directly or indirectly, affect all of us. And while triage makes sense, completely shutting off attention in favor of others is short-sighted at best.
Our media coverage of these issues is flawed, certainly. It’s also large and varied. There are outlets for almost every interest. There are issues being covered that 99% of the world doesn’t know anything about. There’s enough media diversity that one can find almost anything they want. If something truly isn’t being reported, then it behooves one to get the word out. Again, social media can be a wonderful tool.
I would just caution against chastising others for caring about their issues. Your issue is indeed important and worthy of attention. But so is theirs. Just because an issue isn’t seemingly important to you doesn’t invalidate its importance to someone else.
And keep your eyes, ears, and mind open.