I'm always excited when my phone buzzes and I feel some sort of notion that other people think I'm important enough to contact. But if it's from one particular person, I grunt and ignore it. I don't hate the guy, but I don't believe whatever viral email he's forwarding today. I've just had enough.
Maybe you get this same junk in your inbox, on your Facebook wall or just when a friend-who's-not-really-a-friend brings up what he saw on the news last night. Every day, I see "news" stories that take a few Google searches to debunk.
You might have these people in your life, too. Maybe they post "fake news," trolling comments or just stuff that you'd surely never say to anybody's face. Generally, I brush this stuff away, not because I'm as patient as the Dalai Lama or believe these idiotic messages, but because I don't care anymore.
I don't understand why people send these things to me. Will I be rescued from the liberal agenda? Will telling me that global warming is a lie concocted by transsexual communists get my blood to boil? Will I realize the errors of my ways, grab a MAGA hat and convert my friends?
Whatever the reason behind these emails and posts, I know I should either read them, shut up and agree, or delete them before opening them. But as a trained journalist, I can't always keep my big mouth shut. Sometimes I point out falsities and fabrications in these mass emails. Doing this can be dangerous with people whose slice of the political spectrum lies between Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones.
Hey, everybody! Don't think only one side does this. Every wavelength on the political spectrum is guilty.
I know how to fix this. I teach public speaking, and my favorite lesson is debate. This is becoming a lost art. Debates should never involve name-calling, interruptions or any other bullshit — if you use those tactics, your grade drops significantly in Mr. Freeman's class. My tried-and-tested formula works like this:
(Usually you play paper, rock, scissors to see who goes first).
Person 1: This is my argument.
Person 2: This is my argument.
P1: Three reasons why I'm right.
P2: Three reasons why I'm right.
P1: Three reasons why you're wrong.
P2: Three reasons why you're wrong.
P1: This is a review of my argument.
P2: This is a review of my argument.
Teacher: Question time.
I've heard hundreds of debates, and this works wonderfully. Republican vs. Democrat, Harry Potter Universe vs. Twilight, Star Wars vs. the Marvel Universe, hamburgers vs. pizza, cats vs. dogs and any other topic.
There's nothing wrong with arguing or getting peeved with somebody else's opinions, but humanity needs to disagree in a way that both sides get heard. Otherwise, who's going to listen to me talk about how avocados are gross?