One essential component of my yoga practice is mindfulness. By "mindfulness" I mean, being observant. And by "observant" I mean a few things all mashed up together. One aspect of "observance" is "ritual," and I certainly have those. But I'm going somewhere else with this today.
The meaning most readily taken is "attentive." I pay attention. I watch, I don't just look. I listen, I don't just hear. That is attention to the external world. Just as important is attention to my internal world. I am constantly checking in with my body and my thoughts. I probably adjust my posture four or five times per hour, for example.
And if I realize I am chewing some kind of mental cud, I register what I've been obsessing about and then I consciously change my subject. I also, often, write down the topic and do a little research on it, because if there is an issue that is troubling me, or that I have not been able to solve, it's usually because I need more information.
If I am engaged in some kind of discussion online, I am attentive to how I am presenting my points. After all, if I want to be taken seriously (and I am not a comic), I don't want the rug pulled out from under me by anyone willing to take a moment to check the veracity of what I'm writing. I don't call people names, I use complete sentences, I spell correctly, and if what's under discussion relates to fact-checkable information, I check my facts.
I'm also attentive to how other people say (or write) what they are saying (or writing). There is a lot of blatheration on the Internet; you may have noticed. Some of it is carefully written and thoroughly fact-checked blatheration. But a lot of it, perhaps MOST of it - and especially the stuff that one sees on such short-form venues as Facebook - is neither carefully written nor noticeably fact-checked.
It is very easy to get caught up in discussions, especially in fora like Facebook that update more or less immediately. The temptation to steamroll on because one's emotions are engaged has led many, many people to make statements that make them look like idiots and that they, in retrospect, wish they could delete.
But you can't. The Internet is forever. If you show your ass because someone annoys you, your ass is now public property till the end of time.
People who in general I consider intelligent and thoughtful have posted things on Facebook that make me think "if they are this careless and impulsive, perhaps I need to not be friends with them." Which is sad, because they are people I like ... or they would not be my "friends." (Note, this applies principally to individuals with whom my connection is more social or business than personal.) I don't necessarily want these people to change their beliefs or opinions. I just wish they would take a moment to find out if what they are saying, writing, or simply "liking" is actually TRUE.
And this is irrespective of political affiliations ... I have seen egregious nonsense from both the conservative and the progressive camps.
People, you need to slow down. Is it actually helpful TO ANYBODY, including you, to pass on a blatant falsehood? Passing it on makes you look thoughtless, at best; and stupid, at worst. It also makes you look as though you care so much about your beliefs that you don't care if they are based on obvious fictions.
There's a lot of stuff out there that fudges the truth in order to make a point. Oftentimes there is an element of humor, or more precisely snark, because a point is most handily taken when it is made in an entertaining way.
But ... there shouldn't be anything remotely funny about the cynical use of humor to make you accept - and pass on! - a sound bite that is free of context and full of misinformation. If a photo-slogan thing contains a grammatical or spelling error, I assume it's been edited for a specific target audience and that I should immediately dismiss it. Even if it's kind of funny ... in fact, especially if it's funny.
It only takes a moment to fact-check most things we see or read. The twenty percent of the Internet that isn't cat videos, advertising, political rants, and pictures is, after all, information.
If you are too lazy to verify that there is information to support your argument (and if you are posting political photo-advertorials, you are making an argument), I have to assume that you are too lazy to actually be good at much of anything else. Which makes me sad. Because you might have been someone whose business I would have recommended, but now I can't help but think of you as someone who overlooks the facts if they don't suit your worldview.
I have mostly avoided getting caught up in political discussions because I know that the people who have posted stuff I find insulting (not so much to me personally but to people like me, meaning progressives, feminists and intellectuals) have done it impulsively and without really thinking through the widely public nature of their Facebook pages. They don't realize, in other words, that they are talking to me.
Because when you post something on Facebook, you're mostly talking to yourself. It's nothing but a mini-blog when you get right down to it. The only difference is that on Facebook everyone can "like" something and give you that instant gratification that someone, anyone, agrees with you.
I'd suggest that those who are posting a lot of argumentative stuff are the ones who really need to slow down and take a moment. You cannot be simultaneously highly emotional and highly rational. The latter standard is the more persuasive.