In a drastic turn of events, we have decided to cede our mission to the idea that, in fact, you cannot talk to people you disagree with.
That’s according to some highly-esteemed Twitter users, anyway.
A recent focus group, conducted via DMs, showed us that, despite the zero times they have tried, many social media users were unable to have a constructive interaction with someone they disagreed with online.
“I’ve seen the comments on Twitter,” said nico3827radar. “People just don’t want to listen. You gotta beat them to the punch– make your point and get outta there. Doesn’t matter if they respond, you know you’re right anyway.”
When asked if he had tried engaging in discussion with someone in the comments, nico3827radar, also known as Nicoknows1, responded, “Nah, I don’t have time. Downvoting is my go-to.”
This reaction is not uncommon. Despite social media being celebrated across the world for breaking echo chambers and encouraging constructive engagement, its users are still finding it difficult to have conversations across their differences. This is not to say they haven’t tried!
Whether it’s asserting they in fact have the “right” taste in music, or commenting an opinion under someone else’s post, there is no shortage of constructive dialogue to be found in the scrollings of social media. Despite this success, we have decided to reexamine our mission because outside of social media, these discussions just aren’t feasible.
“The best way I’ve seen discussions done,” said RoxiLoxi669, “is to acknowledge the first part of what someone says in their comment. And then ignore the rest. I mean, sure I can agree with some of what they say, but I won’t give them the satisfaction of knowing that. I want to get my two cents in there, too.”
RoxiLoxi669, an avid Twitter-warrior and passionate online activist, said she has not engaged in any in-person conversations. “I stick to online because it’s too much work to talk and listen in-person. And besides, I already know who someone is based on their bio.”
George the PoliticsGuy, otherwise known as georgewarren_x on Twitter, kindly let us know that not only is it not possible to have conversations with those we disagree with, but even suggesting otherwise is damaging to our society.
“My thing is, if I see something I disagree with politically online, I have to engage,” George said. “Sometimes that’s by sharing the right opinion or letting someone know how idiotic they are. There’s room for only some viewpoints in our society, not all of them.”
When asked if George the PoliticsGuy ever read news or sources shared by those he disagreed with, he responded: “Why would I do that?”
What does all of this mean for BridgeUSA? After six years of encouraging students to constructively engage with each other on campus, you’d think we had learned a thing or two about having political conversations. One could point to the 50+ college and high school chapters that have popped up across the country, or the over 400 students who engaged in Bridge discussions just last week, as successes in our mission.
However, we will admit that we were wrong. Through social media, we’ve learned that these interactions are nearly impossible, and that our apparent success on campus is nothing but luck. The truth is, most of our work is a farce for universities to say that they do, in fact, have students with a wide range of different perspectives and backgrounds. We are no longer advocating for this idea. Twitter has set us free.