My Facebook feed was all abuzz after the Supreme Court issued its ruling last Monday in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. I was actually pleased to see the range of opinions expressed by friends. At least on Facebook, I don’t surround myself only with like-minded people.
Not surprisingly, I was also annoyed at all the people who proclaimed opinions without taking into account the particulars of this case. Many people seemed to use the ruling as a chance to proclaim an opinion they already held about health care, contraception or religion.
I understand. I’m annoyed in part because I do the same. It’s easy to use Facebook to affirm what I already think, rather than using it as a space to inform my opinions. This is unfortunate because Facebook is actually a very productive space for learning. It is the one space where I am connected, daily, in real time, to thousands of people from across the world who have diverse life experience and perspective.
So, I’m wondering, how can we use Facebook to learn? Or, to put it in words that resonate with my spirituality, how can we use Facebook to practice curiosity?
Here’s something I’d like to try out for the next month. Every time I post an opinion or share an article, I will follow it with a question or a statement of curiosity, like “This makes me want to know more about _____________.”
For instance, several questions came to my mind after reading the first round of posts about the Supreme Court decision. I could have asked: “How did the contraception language get into the Affordable Care Act, anyway?” or “It seems absurd, to me, that the U.S. health care system relies on employer-based health insurance. How did this come to be our system? ”
If I’d posted these questions, my FB friends could have responded with their own ideas or shared a helpful article. Additionally, I would have become more aware of what I didn’t know and my questions might have prompted others to acknowledge the limits of their understanding.
I’m not advocating for the end of strong opinions. Rather, I’m suggesting that Facebook might be a more productive space if we used it to learn rather than proclaim. Then, we can take our better-informed opinions into our churches, homes and the public square so that, when we act boldly, our actions might be more effective.
I’m curious. What do you think?
Emma Crossen is director for stewardship and development.
Photo by cometstarmoon. Used with permission.