After reading many, many Facebook posts lately – especially in the last week or so – I’ve figured out the algorithm of how to use a mere comment on Facebook to change someone’s mind.
I’ll show you my answer.
Yes, right here at the beginning of my blog. You won’t have to read much at all.
Here’s the answer: x = 0
That’s how many minds you can change.
You can’t change anyone’s mind with a mere Facebook comment!
So why do we try?
(You knew there was going to be more to this post than x = 0, didn’t you!).
I think we try to change others’ minds because we believe in our views so strongly. And because we like to assert ourselves. And because we figure out what we think by writing it down. And because it’s energizing to argue. And because we truly care about the issue. And because of myriad other reasons.
Our society is in a time of transformation. And with that comes confrontation.
Transformation makes us anxious. We like it better when we feel the future is predictable (as if it ever is, but that’s another topic).
We like it when we understand our world. That gives us a feeling of some control – and seeming control gives us a feeling of security.
So why do we feel compelled to try to change someone else’s mind?
Does that give us more control? More security?
We surely must think so.
People have opinions about literally everything. We find our “tribe” within those who seem to agree with us.
So why try to change the mind of someone from another tribe?
Is it because ultimately we know we’re all in the same tribe, that of humanity?
Maybe that’s it.
I hope that’s it.
Because we all are inhabitants of this planet earth. We all have that in common.
But back to Facebook comments. Can our comments to our friends – and friends of our friends – make a difference?
I say the odds are very much against that.
But you know what might make a difference?
A face-to-face conversation.
Because face to face we are more aware that there is another human being sitting across from or beside us. We can see body language. We can listen to tone of voice. Nuance becomes more apparent. We can quickly ask a question, seek explanation, dig deeper.
If we can remember that this is another human being, one who is in the same big tribe as us, then maybe we can slow down and listen – to try to hear what the other person is trying to express.
That’s where my hope in this time of transition lies.
With face-to-face interaction. With conversation during which people truly try to listen to each other – to listen without formulating our next comment while the other person is talking.
Sometimes it’s hard to listen.
It’s especially hard to listen when someone disagrees with you.
But I hope we will try.
Because people who don’t feel heard can become dangerous, can lash out in destructive ways, can hurt others.
To make it through this transition time, we need to listen to each other.
We must listen to each other . . . listen beyond the words to what the heart is saying.
That’s where the commonality lies.
In our hearts.
Each of us loves someone or something.
Each of us wants to be loved.
That’s our commonality.
So next time you feel like setting someone straight with a Facebook comment, remember that there is another human being behind a computer on the other side.
A human being who loves and is loved.
Yes, you may disagree with her or his views. But what you’re about to say isn’t going to change that. It won’t.
What you say could make that person feel heard, though. Maybe even appreciated. Maybe even loved.
You just have to find the grace that is there and available in each moment.
That means you have to take your ego out of the equation. And that is hard.
And if you can’t do that, take your ego out and find the grace, then save your comments until you’re face to face. And find grace then.
Online or face to face, don’t forget that the other person is a person.
One with a beating heart.
Just like yours.