Don't take Facebook at face value
The internet has no boundaries. With the rise of social networks, millions are sharing information and pictures online. We share news about family and friends. We share our thoughts and opinions on current affairs. We share vacation plans and new purchases.
Social networks can be a great tool. But we can also create confusion and misunderstanding through what we share.
I view social media several times a day. During these times I make sure to read political opinions from both sides. I recently found, though, that some of the content I've seen was later proven to be untrue _ rumours, half-truths and Photoshopped images. Men in black on top of the Ministry of Labour. Protest leaders being arrested. Singapore Airlines cancelling 19 flights to Bangkok because of the city's impending shutdown. A military coup. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
We need to remember that we shouldn't always take news _ particularly when it concerns controversial issues _ at face value. We must take it with a grain of salt.
If there's any doubt about content I see, I don't share it _ or I do my research first. It's always better to err on the side of caution. Otherwise, I could potentially cause trouble. As part of my New Year's resolution, I'm trying to talk less and listen more _ and in some cases keep my mouth completely shut _ when it comes to politics.
In doing so, I hope to avoid what can sometimes turn into nasty shouting matches.
Sure, it's okay to disagree _ or even argue _ about politics, as long as you keep your ears and mind open and respect others. I'm comfortable talking to a person who has the ability to admit weak points in his or her position. We can agree to disagree, but our conversation should at least be civil.
It's common for people to have different political points of view. They can be cultivated from the way we were raised or from when political issues were discussed among family members. Individuals who have politically active families often have strong opinions. The universities we attend also shape our political views. The things we read in newspapers and magazines and hear on television also affect our attitudes.
Political discussions, however, often have the potential to turn hostile and destructive. I have found that selective hearing often causes misinterpretation and stirs arguments. People have beliefs and political ideologies, and can sometimes hold on to them when contrary facts or thoughts are given, even if they are presented rationally. I've learned that when we completely disagree with a person, it can be very difficult to talk about anything besides politics without feeling the residual effects of past arguments.
To nurture our relationships, I'm going to let my friends speak freely and listen completely to what they are saying. I'm going to state my opinions calmly and discuss issues with thought, respect and intelligence. And I'm going to look inward, at my ability to accept and tolerate different political views, before jumping into heated discussions.
Sukhumaporn Laiyok is a reporter for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.