It all started with my nightly “before bed social media check.” As I was scrolling aimlessly through Facebook, I kept on seeing post after post about, what other than, the election. Everything you see on Facebook nowadays pretty much is something politics related. But, there was one post in particular that caught my attention the most, not because of who posted it or what it was about, but rather, what was being said in the comment section.
After spending ten minutes of my evening reading several young women argue over political opinions and saying some pretty nasty things about one another, I had to stop and collect myself. What had I just witnessed?
Baffled by the whole ordeal, I began to take a gander at the comment sections on some other Facebook posts as well as venture over to Twitter and look at people’s replies to tweets from the candidates. I was mildly impressed with people’s passion for politics, as well as their wide array of vocabulary if you know what I mean. Without going into too much detail about what my eyes stumbled upon, I soon realized what all of these comments had in common: they all lacked respect.
Before I go any further, I want to make something very clear: everyone is entitled to their own opinion, regardless if it’s negative or positive. We are given the freedom of speech and press to express our thoughts and opinions however we may please and are then held liable if people do not agree with what we have to say.
That being said, I shall continue.
There’s a huge difference between speaking rationally and lashing out. A lot of the times when I see people say rude things about someone else (politics related or not), it’s only because that other person has disagreed with something they had said. There is never a chance to mindfully andrespectfully debate the topic because everything in today’s society has to have a right or a wrong answer.
The sad part is, it’s not even just when speaking where respect is gone. It’s also now being reflected in people’s actions as well. I see young children all the time bossing their parents around like nobody’s business, and the parents just sitting there and taking it. I see waitresses being yelled at by customers for giving them horrible food when they weren’t even the one’s who cooked it in the first place. I see girls sexualizing themselves online just to get attention from guys because they feel like they won’t get it any other way.
It’s as if either people have forgotten what respect means, or they were never taught how to do it in the first place. And, their poor knowledge of both is allowing them to have a negative impact on the world.
Respect is something that’s learned. By seeing what it looks like and how others respond to it is the easiest way to understand it. Respect is also not given but earned. If you can’t learn to respect yourself, no one will ever try to respect you. If you can’t respect what other people have to say, they won’t respect what you have to say either. Respect works both ways (emphasis on both).
As you can probably tell by now, I am a very outspoken and opinionated person. But, by no means would I ever use my words, thoughts, feelings, or opinions to hurt or victimize someone else. Why? Because I know I’m not perfect. I know not everything I say is correct. I know that someone reading this may think that I’m only doing this for attention, but really I’m only trying to bring awareness to an issue I believe needs to be addressed. And again, just because I think it needs to be addressed doesn’t mean you think it does too.
If there’s one thing I urge the most, it’s simply just to learn to respect one another. There’s such a negative connotation behind giving opinions or sharing thoughts and that’s not how it’s supposed to be. It’s okay if not every one agrees with what you have to say. Be mindful and take into consideration what they have to say. One day, you might actually have a change in perspective of things just because you took the time to listen before you chose to speak.
Respect yourself. Respect others. Respect the world around you. It’s what Aretha Franklin would want you to do.