OPINION: Why They’re Worth Your Time


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By CHERI ROBERTS for Challenging the Rhetoric

Over the years I have interacted with many people who have vastly different beliefs than I. This is how it should be for all of us. Diversity is ultimately the basic foundation for successful communities in any society.

When there is no diversity, and everyone is lock-step, truth gets redefined for a purpose other than truth and you no longer have a community; you have a cult.

I’m a Believer

Because beliefs are formed, so too are our presentations of them. Although we are born ignorant, most of us are not born assholes. Being an asshole, just like learning, is a choice, not a birth defect.

If you are an asshole, you choose to be.

What is it inside of you that makes that so?

That is a good question for all of us, myself included because, at different times in my life, I too have chosen to be an asshole.

Of course, there are appropriate times where assholery is actually appropriate, but those times should be few and far between, not the norm of what we call engagement today. But, maybe the term engagement is part of the problem itself.

Engage does not mean interact. In context, it basically means show up for an appointment. So if we are engaging online, what is our purpose in showing up?

Chump Change

As we have evolved amidst the growing access to technology and its ever-extending reach, the social structures or manners our parents once taught us have steadily become as obsolete as wooden nickels.

The promised flip side of that coin was that technology was going to connect us all, when the reality is, it is little different than change in a vending machine that pops out junk food to the masses.

The problem is, we are the ones that both fill the machine and frequent its offerings.

We are like puppets strung together by fiber optics, our mindless postings, likes, shares, and Tweets give little thought to the reactions we create. We admonish and insult without care, and without the grace or class with which we once had spoken.

The feelings of others no longer matter and words of hate and violent hopes are shared as if good and wholesome things.

Today we act as if our first amendment rights give us license to dismantle humanity one engagement at a time, and the change most of us say we want is in no way reflected in our actions while the change we seek is in our own pockets.

Suspicious Minds

The paranoia we like to notice in others, we fail to notice in ourselves, which brings me back to the point of diversity that I began with.

The opinions of those we do not agree with are just as important as our own. No one needs to agree on opinions themselves, but the basis of any opinion is the key to understanding how to address the problems that those opinions create.

Understanding in order to correct is never going to happen as long as we let our suspicions, of everyone from whatever side we deem to be opposite of our own, get in the way of opportunities for meaningful dialogue.

It’s A Sigh-Op, Not A Psy-Op

As both an activist and a journalist, it is not uncommon for people with opposing views to try to get close to me, or infiltrate as some would call it.

Some of those that make the attempt, do so for many reasons and not all of those reasons are nefarious. And even when they are, what does it matter if you are upright, honest, and stand by what you believe and say?

If you are open, where do they get the satisfaction of the “Aha!” moment they are seeking?

They don’t.

But you, on the other hand, still get as open a door as they do and it is how you utilize that door to the other side that matters most.

You can slam the door on them, or you can work it for the greater good. We each have the power to provoke, but what exactly are we provoking?

I accept those opportunities for what they are. Otherwise, I would be unable to accomplish much of what I do as a journalist, or even as an activist.

Not only do these junctures in circumstance allow me [and you] to garner information and hopefully understanding, they also make way for sharing with those who are contradictory in such a way that they are more likely to, at the very least, take a peek at it, and sometimes, if you are lucky, they will find enough worth in it to then share it with their followers.

This is how minds are changed, but it starts with your own attitude and willingness to take a chance. Just like being an asshole, it’s a choice.

Do You Engage to Enrage?

The language we use may come from Webster’s Dictionary, but the voice in which we use on social media can sometimes be straight from Trump’s playbook. In other words, some people merely engage to enrage.

What feelings do you or can you create that have a positive impact on not only your followers but on the conscience of the world? Negativity often only breeds more negativity.

Many of us think when we go online and share differing opinions that each disagreement is a “debate” however, I’d argue that the definition of debate has been lost to technology like many people’s manners. The definition of debate does not include derogatory, threatening, or violent behavior, nor does it include name-calling, and tangents.

When you move away from facts to “asshats” and “trolls” you immediately lose not only the so-called debate, but also your credibility to the point you are making.

A debate is full of concise thought presented with logic and facts and it is for a purpose outside of voicing an opinion simply because we can. And to be sure, a debate is still not a dialogue, and while at the end of every debate there may be a winner and a loser, there is rarely an answer and a solution.

The world we live in is not static. It is continuously being created, and just like any other organic happening it is unfolding according to all of us and our acceptance of the evolution of our own behaviors.

Do you engage to enrage, or do you involve to evolve?

That too is a choice.



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Check out these other recent articles by Cheri Roberts …

11 responses to “OPINION: Why They’re Worth Your Time

  1. first of all, every well written article as i have come to expect from you cheri.
    now that being said –
    sometimes investigation straying away from the mainstream uncovers avenues we wish we had never stumbled onto..
    we can either embrace what is uncovered, (mentally shelving what we cannot understand) or come up with idioms like “extraordinary claims take extraordinary evidence” – no it doesn’t.
    the logic dictates “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”
    there is too much running away from the obvious going on these days.
    the interactions these days are too much about the “wrong ” conclusions that the evidence is headed toward, than the relevancy of the evidence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The veracity of the evidence comes first, otherwise you have nothing, including “evidence” and arbitrarily sharing it, is not “researching”, “investigating”, or “reporting”.


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