Self Expression And The Purpose of Social Media

Is there any fundamental difference in expressing yourself through an opinion or through an art form? Both are gateways which allows someone else to get to know you on a more personal level. Everyone loves to argue with your opinion but people rarely argue with a painting or poem. Perhaps the only difference lies in the eyes of the beholder.

A piece of art may be much more abstract and difficult to place boundaries around so you don’t know what it is or what it isn’t. That is why it is more likely to induce quiet observation rather than any type of polarizing commentary.

When I throw an opinion out there I actually have no desire to argue about it. There’s not a single part of me that wants to engage in a battle of wits, or be forced into any kind of defensive posture. My mind may change in the future but only my own terms. I do love hearing other’s peoples thoughts or perspective, but that is quite different than an argument, or being forced to respond to an attack on my point of view.

Could we shift the way we approach opinions by instead looking at it like we look at art, as another form of self expression?

The next time someone updates their status on Facebook with a strong opinion on some topic make the conscious decision to look deeper. Take the perspective that they are simply fulfilling that fundamental human need to express themselves to the world. Our purpose then transforms from closely examining the surface level facts that were presented and preparing a well worded rebuttal, to simply allowing  their expression. And maybe, just maybe, getting to know them on a deeper level.

This is why arguments get so intense on social media. You think you are disagreeing with someone’s opinion but what you are actually doing is telling them that they are not allowed to be who they are. That they are not allowed to exist.

No one is going to change their mind in these circumstances. I am convinced that the culture of online debating that occurs on Facebook, Twitter, or even in the comment section on YouTube or news articles are a plague on society. They aren’t helping anyone and are likely causing much harm to everyone involved.

People want to find out who they are, and then express it to the world. We want to express ourselves because then it helps us find people who are just like us. Then by interacting with those like minded individuals we can dive deeper into the experience of who we are. We don’t express ourselves in these mediums to be told that we are full of shit.

Social media is phenomenal in it’s reach, but it is totally misunderstood in it’s true purpose.

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