PI Editorial: Fooling ourselves with social media
At the last Glenwood Spring City Council meeting, Glenwood Springs Mayor Jonathan Godes offered up a rare thing for a politician in this day and age — an apology.
Earlier in January, Godes was one of many people to distribute a photo of U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) posing with some members of the III-percenter movement, a loose band of far-right militia types who erroneously believe that just 3% of colonists fought against the British in the Revolutionary War, among other things.
While Godes and many others purported that the photo was taken at the U.S. Capitol the day before the Jan. 6 insurrection, it was in fact taken over a year prior at the Colorado Capitol in Denver.
Like most things social media-driven these days, the post was met with amped-up energy from those who believed and agreed, those who knew it to be incorrect and even some who thought a reasonable response was to threaten Godes and members of his family.
We don’t care what you believe in, but to threaten others with physical violence is completely unacceptable. Being right doesn’t hold a candle when coupled with the false justification of violence or threats of violence.
Sadly, the response and aftermath is not surprising in our current cultural climate. It often feels like we’ve pushed rhetoric to new, divisive levels never before seen in our nation’s history. Some might point to even worse rhetoric in the years leading up to the Civil War, but that isn’t very comforting.
We don’t claim to have the solution, but we know for certain that we have to find better ways to live together. That doesn’t mean nullifying our individual beliefs, but it does mean recognizing that we are more bound together as members of a community than members of any political party. It’s more important to be good neighbors than to be good neighbors solely for those whose political beliefs align with our own.
One simple way to work toward this? Disempower criticism. The easiest thing in the world is to see something as a problem to be outraged about and respond with everything that you see wrong about it.
That’s a hollow solution — we’re becoming dangerously naive if we think we’re going to create more cohesion by tirelessly pointing out why someone is wrong.
Instead, we should offer solutions — and focus our energy on where we can most make a positive impact for our community.
For example, what does it accomplish to call for Boebert’s resignation? Agree or disagree with her, but you’re absolutely wrong if you think she’s going to be pressured into resigning. It’s also probably not going to change how her base feels about her, other than probably making them even more supportive.
So if that’s the real-world result, what’s the point? More so than anything, it’s probably more about making us feel good in our own echo chambers. But if we keep doing that, our ideological bubbles will grow and grow — and then one day pop in a likely spasm of chaos and tragedy.
We can’t let that happen.
The Glenwood Springs Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann and Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud.
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Editor’s note: Managing Editor and Senior Reporter John Stroud did not participate in discussions for this editorial since he is the primary reporter on the story.