My 95% rules. Or why I critique others so little on social media.

Like you, I have strong opinions about a variety of subjects. Most of these subjects are not my expertise, but I still have strong opinions. I just read a tweet about men asking their wives to change their names when the couple marries. I thought, I should comment/like/reflect or problematize that idea. Then I thought, nope. (Full disclosure, neither I nor my wife changed our names when we married. )

Social media amplifies peoples voices, but as a rich, white, heterosexual male, my voice is pretty amplified already. Too often, I find that my contribution to a discussion on social media wouldn’t lend new insight, only ┬áreinforce an existing argument thread. So, 95% of the time, I say nothing.

The other 5% of the time I think about saying something, but often still don’t. Say with the naming question, I am familiar with four different naming practices around the world (U.S., Spain, Northern Ireland, and Cultural Revolution China). Though not expert, I could offer a minor exposition on what last names mean(t) to families in the world. Still, my comments might focus on a tiny part of a larger sentiment. Say I criticize 5% of a thesis, and I agree with 95% of the rest of the thesis. What part of my words will be amplified?, the 5% criticism. This way lies perdition. Or at the least a circular firing squad.

Again and again I see nominal allies pick each other apart publicly for small disagreements. Those disagreements may contain great meaning (what order do you use: LGBTQIA, GLBTIAQ) but to those who disagree with the premise of the argument, it’s an opportunity for attack.

So, I don’t comment on 95% of the material for which I hold an opinion. On the 5% I do think about commenting on, I make sure that my comments focus on the 95% of the argument I agree with, not the 5% I don’t. That 5% of the 5%, (.25%) I feel compelled to weigh in on, I try to write long form, here, or to the originator directly. Social media for me is for sharing resources or quick networking, not nuanced discussion or prolonged arguments. Just in case you wondered why my retweet to tweet ratio is more than 50:1.

Except for the Nazis. We should always say no to Nazis. It’s not hard to say no to evil, right @jack?

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