Writer/Blogger Jane Devin had a good idea for today: One Day, No Hate (#1Day0Hate hashtag on Twitter). This is from her post —
I was speaking with a new friend on the phone today, and the discussion briefly turned to Twitter and politics. I don’t know whether she’s a Republican, a Democrat, or something else, but it doesn’t matter. The thing that was bothering both of us equally was how divisive and hostile political speech has become.
The social media that draws us together to converse and share has become something of a battleground for left/right politics. Sometimes, these arguments are intriguing. Sometimes — okay, a lot of the time — they are not arguments at all, but angry rants that leave little room for real discussion.
Later in the day, I made the comment on Twitter that I wish we could have a one-day moratorium on angry, hostile speech. I know that probably means little or nothing to those who engage in such language as a habit, but it seemed to strike a chord among those who would like to see people come together as people first, political party members second.
I liked the idea, but since I’m not as political as Jane, I asked her how I could participate as a writer on my blog.
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“I’d like to see people begin to speak with people they normally wouldn’t, even to say hello,” she wrote back.
The first thing that came to my mind was an idea I had in January 2008 called The Great Interview Experiment. Many of you participated. The gimmick seemed simple at the time, requiring (at least I thought!) very little work on my part. People would comment on my post, and the first commenter would interview the second commenter, who would interview the third commenter. The RANDOM nature of the selection process was key, because you couldn’t choose your partners. That was the fun part, and since we are one big happy blogging community, it shouldn’t matter, right?
Liberals didn’t want to be interviewed by Conservatives. A-listers didn’t want to be interviewed by C-listers. Serious bloggers didn’t want to be interviewed by crazy bloggers. Others just blew off their partners for one reason or another. While the experiment was immensely successful in many ways, with hundreds participating, the most surprising result of the experiment was the effect it had on me — it turned ME cynical! At a certain point, I pushed the whole idea aside, not because of a lack of interest on your part, but because I stopped believing in my own central concept: everyone is somebody. “Clearly this is not true,” I thought. “And no one really believes it, even those who say it.”
What does this have to do with politics? I think hate grows out of seeing the other as The Other, and forgetting that the other is basically the same as you and me.
We all talk about community, but what community are we usually discussing? The ones in our group? The ones who agree with our ideas? The ones who look and act just like us? I think what Jane is talking about on HER blog is for Americans of disparate views to set aside their differences, just for a little while, and focus on what they have in common. People don’t have to love each other, but they should respect each other. Every American lives in the same country. Every American is part of the human family.
In my search to try to do something useful online, I turn again to this interview experiment. Should I start it up again, from scratch? My interest is less in the interviews, than the matching of unlikely individuals together, and seeing what happens.
Is there truly any strands that connect the great writer, the crappy writer, the blogger who is friends with a popular blogger, and the blogger with no friends? Does asking questions help our tiny community of personal bloggers in better seeing the humanity of an adversary, for the traditional Christian mommyblogger to better understand the gay male dating blogger? Does anyone really believe that we are all in the same boat floating on the waves of the blogosphere?
I’m just thinking about what Jane said.
“I’d like to see people begin to speak with people they normally wouldn’t, even to say hello,” Jane said.
I’m trying to inspire myself to get it going again, unless I hear otherwise from you. Like they said on Curb Your Enthusiasm last night when Larry David tried to get the Seinfeld gang together again — no one likes those reunion shows.
Give me a few days. Try not to hate anyone today.