“It happens all the time.”

Post office boxes

We were discussing social media communication.

August_Hermann_Knoop_Rokoko-KavaliereMy young friend and I were discussing what he sees and hears on the college campus.

“Relationships are based on convenience,” he began. “Students surround themselves with people who think like they think.”

My face frowned, “Isn’t that exactly the opposite of what should happen at college?”

800px-Graz_University-Library_reading-room“You would be surprised,” he was shaking his head, “Students form groups which disallow any and all opposing viewpoints.”

“What is the latest idea you’ve encountered,” I questioned.

“There are some who suggest that because you are a man, you are automatically a rapist.

The stunned expression on my face spoke for me.

800px-Adolf_Friedrich_Erdmann_von_Menzel_049“That’s right. Simply because you are a man you automatically have inclinations and tendencies toward abuse of women. Some groups assume that point of view. All other perspectives are viewed as an attack against women. You either agree or you become the adversary.”

It was hard to believe what I was hearing.

My college friend continued, “If a group finds others who disagree in the slightest they criticize, marginalize, and ostracize dissent.

“Posting in social media by some,” he resumed, “Is all based on personal experience and emotion. Anyone who irritates the group is isolated and antagonized.”

phoneHe picked up his phone. “Here is one posting example of the end result of such thinking.” He read the following statement word-for-word from one student’s social media feed.

“By what authority are these statements right or wrong? There are no born rights. There is only that which we take by force. Rights are a luxurious abstraction for societies which have already exercised sufficient force.”

1984“This sounds like Nazi Germany or Orwell’s 1984,” my voice was incredulous.

“So where do rights come from according to your social media friend,” I asked. [See my essay on “rights” here.]

“Whomever is in power controls rights,” came his adamant reply.

“So do you feel bullied in campus discussions?” I had to ask.

“I pick my words carefully,” his eyes locked on mine. “Campus atmosphere dictates discussions.”

Microphone_slant.svg“We have open mic nights about pressing social issues,” he motioned to an announcement on a TV monitor. “I go to listen and ask questions. But even asking questions can get you in trouble. People will read into your questions if they feel your queries are searching for alternative points of view.”

“Is there any hope of creating space for open, honest, yet civil discussions?” I asked.

Right now, in the present culture, I would say no,” came his sad response. “Obviously social media is the wrong place to post any contrarian viewpoint. The campus atmosphere precludes openness.”

handshakeHe paused, stuck his hand out across the table, and said, “Thank you for spending time with me. I look forward to our discussions each week. Your investment in my life helps me know that a loving Christian viewpoint is the answer to antagonism on campus or in social media.”

Mark is both saddened and encouraged by such discussions he has with college students. Dr. Mark Eckel is the president of The Comenius Institute. See our one minute video here.

Picture credit: Wikipedia, Wikipedia commons

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The Comenius Institute is a Christian educational institute that will engage in the teaching-learning craft. In doing so, the organization will encourage study, discussion, research, and collaboration of students and scholars in the pursuit of theological truth with academic excellence. The Institute may present relevant materials for discussion through lecturers, guest speakers, authors, resident scholars, and students. It may facilitate the learning process through small group dynamics, mentoring relationships, and open forum discussion. It is the hope of Comenius to provide a place for learners to engage in spiritual-intellectual growth in an environment that encourages study, reflection, curiosity, discourse and collaboration through the in-depth pursuit of wisdom.

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