Posts Tagged ‘debate’

What do a liberal blogger and a Republican campaign operative have in common?

June 25, 2008

Well…yea…about as much as you would expect ideologically – what’s great though is that the social web is doing everything I had hoped it would to facilitate an honest debate of ideas.

I have always enjoyed spirited exchanges of ideas – 9 different schools fromĀ  K – 12th grade, brought on by a move approximately ever 2.5 years growing up tends to blunt one’s willingness to disassociate with someone because they don’t see eye-to-eye with you. Even so, we tend to congregate with like-minded individuals and eye dissenters warily making it difficult for us to meaningfully interact with a truly broad range of opinions.

Enter social media.

To say that the Twitter and FriendFeed landscapes are dominated by those with a left-of-center mindset would be an understatement. As a result I wasn’t the least bit surprised when my attempts to widen the nozzle on my information stream brought with them a slew of interactions with other users who looked at Republicans the same way Jaguar Paw looked at the strange wooden objects coming ashore at the end of Apocalypto. This is to be expected, its human nature – the less we have in common with or understand about another person, the more likely we are to distrust them and jump to hasty conclusions about them.

The power of social media is that it allows us to find and interact with one another based on common interests. The Twitter and FriendFeed communities are largely made up of social media types – some who work in social media and others, like myself, who are drawn to the new avenues of communication it opens up. Either way there is a common bond that allows us to build a relationship based on a mutual understanding.

Want an example of how powerful this is? Tech blogger Robert Scoble posted a message on his FriendFeed account that Republican Congressman John Culberson uses Twitter sparking a flurry of excited reponses, many of which indicated they would now follow the Texas Congressman as well. I can guarantee you that many of them are not predisposed to enthusiasm over anything that has to do with Republicans – especially when they come in the form of Republicans in Congress. Had Scoble posted something about Representative Culberson’s stance on an issue the comments would have very likely been dominated by generalizations disparaging Republicans but since a common interest was shared Representative Culberson just found scores of new friends on Twitter.

This past Sunday I received an IM from HuffPo/BlogHer/MOMocrat blogger, Queen of Spain asking if I was interested in jumping on her web show later that evening to discuss current political topics including the FISA re-authorization. She runs in a different world than I. A few months ago I didn’t even know she existed (and vise versa) but through our interactions on Twitter we were able to prove to one another that, despite completely different ideological approaches, we both wanted the same thing: to make the world a better place.

I joined her that night and had a blast trying to convince the shows participants that my views (or conservative views in general) were not the result of some nefarious desire to wreak havoc on the lives of others – who knows if I succeeded. What I do know is that, like many voters, I have grown tired of a climate that prevents me from expressing my reasoning for holding a certain position or hearing the reasoning of someone who disagrees. I am thrilled to see that social media is doing exactly what I hoped it would: restoring our ability to disagree without being disagreeable (sound familiar?).