What do you think about people asking/telling their social media contacts to keep their polarizing views and debatable data to themselves?

Of those who bother to comment, many love the notion of curtailing controversy. Other vocal friends vehemently respond that they won’t be quiet.

“If you don’t like what I’m posting, then …”

Then what?

• keep scrolling
• hide my content
• block me
• speak your mind

All the while, social platforms exert control by deleting posts and suspending accounts that they deem violate “terms of service” or “community standards.” Notably, the targets of censorship have exploded in number and types, prompting more and more users to go elsewhere to gather and share information.

Any measure or cry to silence people who disagree makes me think of my husband’s recollections of growing up in his neighborhood with a boy who rarely opened his mouth without saying, “My daddy says …” Whatever that daddy said, he had a true believer in his son. For any topic from A to Z, Danny’s daddy had the one and only answer. Amused, my husband and another pal began prefacing their remarks with my daddy says as an inside joke and way of provoking a reaction from Danny.

Before long, my daddy says evolved into a competition. The three boys were like poker players, each one upping the ante regarding what my daddy brought to the table. From any boy’s perspective, my daddy, whose word was golden, never lost a hand. No doubt, those dads would have been amused and honored to have heard their offspring espousing and, when necessary, defending their positions on sports, science, and everything else under the sun.

If they more aggressively challenged one another to “prove it,” then no kid would get a pass simply by claiming my daddy says, for instance, that Ty Cobb was the all-time best baseball player. He’d have to provide stats, such as Cobb’s batting average and number of triple plays and stolen bases. That wouldn’t have stopped another boy from championing Willie Mays, perhaps, and another from rooting for Babe Ruth. In any case, solid evidence would reign over my daddy says.

As loyal as they were, the boys were not automatically opposed to a different dad’s thoughts on a subject. Curious and impressionable, they learned from one another. They also recognized that their dads sometimes had the same ideas. When disagreement arose, the kids used their words to jab at one another without inflicting real damage. They were friends. Their mission was to maximize their freedom to play together. No one wanted to fight and end up home alone with nothing to do.

My daddy says eventually ran its course. To be taken seriously, any older boy would have to speak for himself. Also, growing up meant that countless experiences and encounters would broaden their minds and reshape their perspectives. 

My daddy says this, but I say that.

In other words:
• Bonds and loyalty to individuals, one’s family, community, etc. create a foundation for beliefs.
• Respect or appreciation does not necessarily equate to total allegiance.
• People who disagree on one item can agree on many other important points.
• Exposure to differing views ignites critical thinking and personal growth.
• A wise person knows that “hush” or “because I said so” can silence a young child, but neither wins a debate nor quells discontent.
• Like a kid who plugs his ears with his fingers and cries because he doesn’t want to hear it and lacks the maturity to express his frustration rationally, censors block content because they lack firm counterarguments built upon logic, facts, and faith.

Cheers to all the fathers, mothers, teachers, and other role models who encourage a life of studying, exploring, questioning, listening, thinking critically, and debating, all the while practicing and defending free speech!

That’s my position. What’s yours? You’re free to disagree.

My best to you,
Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady

Thoughts or questions? Please contact Sallie Boyles, owner of Write Lady Inc., to exchange ideas about effective communications and gain from professional writing and editing services. Receive monthly tips and insights by subscribing at https://WriteLady.com.