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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

At what point did Americans lose the ability to have good conversations? At what point did the idea that disagreeing with someone meant that you violently oppose everything about them? Why are Americans so unwilling to compromise on anything anymore?

Whenever a controversial topic is posted on social media, there is no middle ground filled with enlightening discussion that can help to shed new light on the subject. There is only a battle of opinions where people feel that their opinions are facts. You will find that the people with the least substantial things to say are usually the ones who say them most frequently, use strong language to get their points across, and speak the loudest. The quiet ones are the ones interested in discussing the issue, but the art of conversation no longer exists.

Has America always been a country dominated by the lowest common denominator? When did the most shallow of thoughts become status quo? When did hate go from being something to despise to something that people put on a pedestal? And when did the people who could carry on intelligent conversations suddenly decide that it was best to offer nothing for people to consider?

Here is the thing…your opinion is wrong, and your opinion is right. But one thing your opinion is not is a fact. Your racist opinion on a topic does not undermine any of the facts that may exist. Your fear mongering efforts do not take the place of the facts that should be able to put people’s minds at ease. Yet Americans constantly jump to the easy solution of going with the opinion that requires the least amount of thought or empathy. Then they convince themselves that their opinion is fact, and everything breaks down.

Americans will condemn an entire religion over the acts of a few. They will point their finger at other religions and use them as examples as to why religion is a bad thing. Then these same Americans will support some office clerk because she used her religion as a way to get out of doing her job. Gay people are not evil. Just because a book of well-meaning tales says that gay people are evil does not mean that it is a fact. It is not, and shame on you for saying you are a Christian and then chastising someone because of who they love.

Americans use religion as a reason to alienate over a billion people, yet they hide behind religion when they beat a teenager to death in what was supposed to be a house of worship. Do we just ignore the Christians who beat that boy to death for “his own good,” or do we put those people in the same category as the Paris shooters?

Ignorant comments on social media are turning into the equivalent of putting honey out to attract ants. People flock to ignorant comments and hold them up as though they were delivered by a prophet. I sometimes read social media and wonder if people are really this clueless, or if they are just playing a game.

My opinion is not fact. Your opinion is not fact. I do not argue my opinion as though it is fact, but my opinions can be changed if I am presented with a convincing argument based on facts. However, “Muslims should be kicked out of this country because they are all terrorists” is not a fact. Yet, that is the argument I get from people all over social media.

I love good conversation. I have learned so much and have had my opinion changed on so many topics because of good conversation. But I find that when I go outside the very small circle of friends that I normally talk to on a daily basis, I cannot find good conversation anywhere. I find hate, ignorance, racism, and shallow thinking. I also find that people who do have good ideas get shouted down by the masses, and then there goes any chance at good conversation.

The Internet was supposed to enlighten America and bring us closer together so that we could share ideas and make our country a better place. Instead, it has become the kind of place where smart people remain silent because the ignorant people shout the loudest.

Do me a favor and try something the next time you are on social media. Instead of insisting that your candidate is the best one because that is your opinion based on some stuff you saw on television and a few Facebook memes, try engaging in real conversation. Do some research and find out what your candidate is really all about. Then take a look at other facts and see how much better you feel. Can you imagine how much better off we would be if people would just give compromise and real conversation a try?

+George N Root III is a Lockport resident and a sucker for good conversation. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him an email at

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  1. Great article George. It would be nice if people took it to heart.

  2. I wish I'd read your piece earlier in the week when it was originally published. Unfortunately, I had to attend the viewings/funeral of my 15 year old daughter's best friend, so couldn't really get online until now, in the aftermath of it all. But, your column would have offered a bit of sanity, a ray of hope that all is not lost amid this madness that we're inundated with today.
    Seriously, my friend, it's so good to know that there are others out there that can see how horribly uncivil things have become lately & who has the guts to call folks on it & urge them to take the time to actually think before opening their mouths or hitting their keyboards. Good for you.
    May you & your's have wonderful holidays.
    - Jim Allcorn


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