Social media gives us an interesting insight into people’s lives. A platform like Facebook provides a way and means for anyone to share everything from what they had for lunch, to where they went on their most recent vacation. These things are often shared in real time.

It’s a wonderful way to stay in touch with family. I’m much more connected to my cousins and family around the world than I was before Facebook. We can exchange photos, videos and milestones in a way that we couldn’t pre-internet.

Facebook is also a place where groups of like-minded people can join together and share about their love of Lake Minnetonka, as it is with the The Lake Minnetonka Fan Club page, or where parents can exchange ideas and advice having to do with their kids’ schools. Many area schools have their own parent pages.

Personally, I work in social media. I create content and amplify the reach of small businesses primarily in the Lake Minnetonka and surrounding area. My job is to be on social media, which I often am throughout the day interacting with individuals, groups and businesses.

The same qualities that make social media a wonderful tool and resource also make it a curse. Anyone can be on it, sharing whatever they wish. We love beautiful sunset photos of Lake Minnetonka, but we aren’t such a fan of each other’s opposing political views.

I love a good discussion that involves opposing views. What I often see missing on social media is a lack of acceptance or tolerance of an opposing view. I know this is nothing new. It plays out all over other types of media and in our day-to-day lives.

It has me wondering about something. Why do the opposing views of others sometimes leave some feeling threatened? I’ve witnessed individuals get so bent out of wack if you don’t see the world as they do. Why is it we can’t agree to disagree on simple things? Why do some feel the need to make a mountain out of a molehill?

These days I see too many people focusing on things they disagree with or are fighting that they lose track of the life they want. It leaves me wondering if what they want in life is to be miserable, bitter and angered. Seems that way based on how they choose to represent themselves on social media.

Not that anger or worry don’t have their place. Life isn’t always a walk in the park, and social media is often where we turn for support. I know I have. What I’m talking about is that social media friend whose every post is something negative. It’s either negativity about their own life of someone else who in their eyes is causing their own life to be miserable. They are choosing to use their influence and reach to spread a negative message, which usually results in negative feelings.

When you meet someone at a party full of people for the first time, you usually put your best foot forward. Social media is a group of people. Maybe these same people meet someone at a party for the first time and start spewing about their hatred of one political leader or another? That is rarely my experience.

The point I want to make is that I feel, at some point, many of us have abandoned the idea of using good manners and putting our best foot forward. Lake Minnetonka manner’s expert Marilyn Pentel says, “Good manners is simply helping someone to feel more comfortable.” When you are constantly putting negativity out into the world or contributing to a conflict with another person, you aren’t helping anyone feel comfortable. It’s bad manners.

Let’s keep this in mind when we are on these different community groups and our own pages on social media. It’s possible to have meaningful conversation with opposing views and still be helping each other to feel comfortable. It starts with recognizing that maybe your way isn’t the only way. Maybe your view isn’t the only view.

Yes, we all have a right to communicate our views and beliefs, but we don’t have a right to make less of someone else for doing so, even if we don’t agree. We also can use good manners by keeping in mind the idea of helping others to feel comfortable. If you are so unstable in your own views that an opposing view is a threat to you, maybe social media isn’t for you.

You can learn more about Natalie Webster and her adventures in the Lake Minnetonka area at WebsterEffect.com.

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