f FaceBook pages could scream, I’d be deaf. When I look at what friends have posted and reposted every day, most of what I see are screaming, undocumented, divisive, demonizing, dehumanizing, ignorant, gloomy and divisive memes. Most of them play free with the facts or are fact free.I have good friends and family who are liberals, conservatives and almost every one of them is posting these screaming memes. I can’t think of any one of these people as evil or nasty or shallow or mean spirited in person. Yet they post these really nasty and shallow memes. It’s like watching boils erupt on healthy skin. It’s like watching a whole community suddenly having a bad drug trip and attacking each other.
As one friend who posts lots of memes recently said, they are not supposed to be dialogue and will change no one’s mind. So what are they for? Perhaps they are self-cleansing cries of anger and pain? If so, why are they almost always direct or implied attacks on someone else?
I’ve mediated hundreds of conflicts in the courts and in private, and almost all of them start this way—with one or both sides demonizing or dehumanizing or vilifying the other. The challenge for any mediator is to get both sides to listen TO each other rather than shouting AT each other.
Would that someone could mediate this national discussion, these FaceBook conflicts. Would that they could get good people to come out from behind their memes and talk to each other. Maybe it would be sufficient to ask if the memes people post don’t say more about the person posting than about the subject of the meme. Are people really as nasty and shallow as the stuff they post?