Conflict, Compromise and Social Skills

This isn’t a question that my girls have asked me per se, but its a discussion that we have had around our house for the last week or so.

Christy Clark Jim IkerHere in BC the teacher’s union is on strike, so school hasn’t started for my kids yet this year. The government and teacher’s union have been fighting for a great many years and the situation is hot and heated and controversial and everyone has an opinion and they hold those opinions with great emotional conviction.

Here’s my problem with where things are at.  I am not upset with the teachers; they have a difficult and thankless job. I am not upset with the government; they were elected under the promise of financial accountability and balanced budgets and this is one facet of trying to deliver on that. I am not upset with the people at the bargaining table; they are humans, trying in an imperfect way to do what they think is the best.  I am upset with you.  (Not you specifically, but the “greater you” that makes up everyone on social media that is involved in the greater social discussion and commentary flooding my Facebook wall.)

We live in a weird age. I have noticed that my teens have NO conflict resolution skills. They almost never meet face to face, but end up chatting with lots of people over various forms of instant messaging and social media. When something happens that is awkward or someone says something that might be taken the wrong way, you can simply stop answering their texts. Imagine acting like that with everyone in a room… you say something awkward and all of a sudden everyone just acts like you disappeared.  You can scream at the crowd and say, “no, no, you misunderstand!”, but still they ignore you. That would never happen. It might be awkward, but you would have to – and get to – deal with it right then and there.

Something else that is weird about the age that we live in is the ease with which your voice can be heard by the masses. Anyone can sit down at a keyboard and write something that sounds plausible and have it published and read by thousands. There is no burden of proof, or references for cited material, or even any requirement to try and be truthful. I’ve seen people write some crazy stuff and if it gets shared enough, even legitimate news media will republish it to try and fill the insatiable demand for tantalizing news.

When you put all of the above together, you have some very good people exhibiting some very bad behavior. Economists are on the side of the government, but should they share something about their opinion, they are sure to get hate mail and have their moral character called into question, but not face to face. No, they will be blasted over social media or email or text or other forms of communication that don’t require you to look into the eyes of the one that you are berating and recognize that you are hurting them.

Parents with special needs kids are mostly on the side of the teachers, but should they post something about their opinion… watch out. Parent’s with kids in private school or home school have mixed opinions, but can they share them as part of the discussion without being slandered in return?

And then there is hate. If you support the teachers, then support them, but why do some people feel entitled to degrade the personal character of our Premier? If you support the government, that’s fine, but then why is it ok to blast unfounded hateful comments about the union president or their demands or about unions in general?

This is something that social media makes available but society should not. These are basic social skills…

I have a friend that likes to read and share articles that have various degrees of different opinions. The other day, she posted an article that was mostly pro-government, but from a perspective that she hadn’t seen anywhere else, so she shared it asking what people thought. I read the article. It was an interesting perspective. She took the post down within a couple hours because her inbox filled up with hateful comments and personal attacks. It wasn’t even specifically her opinion, just something she thought was interesting.

No one knows the truth. Only those in the actual bargaining discussion knows the truth of what is said in there. Everything else is hearsay and conjecture and opinion and some outright lies. There is no requirement that you validate your sources and make sure that whatever you post is true, but understand that they are opinions and thoughts that support your own stance and… they may be partially incorrect or taken out of context, so accept comments for and against with understanding and dignity. If you disagree with something that you read, by all means post a comment, but do it with grace and tact.

“Treat others the way that you want to be treated”, but I’ll add something to that… Treat others wherever they are, the way that you want to be treated when you are face to face.

Just my opinion.

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