This week, I met with a freelance writer who wants to do a piece on #unitecloud in the St. Cloud Times. I am really excited to see what will happen when more of St. Cloud is introduced to our Facebook page. Yay!
When Ibrahim, the freelance writer I met with, first talked to his editor at the Times about the idea for this story, the response was something along the lines of: “That is great…but…what does #unitecloud do? I mean, besides, being online? Are they hosting events?”
“Nope,” I told Ibrahim, “we are an online presence; a grassroots, social media campaign, speaking out against hate speech in the St. Cloud area.”
Ibrahim got it…..and loved it. In speaking with him this week over coffee at Caribou, he shared with me that every immigrant parent wants their child to be a doctor or a lawyer…to really get to the top of the American dream ladder. However, he knew that his role lay in journalism. Specifically he seeks to change the way American media talks about immigrants and Muslims. What a worthy life goal.
Similarly, #unite cloud seeks to change the way that St. Cloud folks talk ABOUT each other.
The goal is, if we can change the way we talk ABOUT each other, we can get to the point where we can talk TO each other in a community-building manner.
What is wrong with the way St Cloud people talk ABOUT each other? The St. Cloud Times online comment section is a perfect (perfectly horrible, that is) example of the problem #unitecloud is addressing. Here’s a smattering of actual, real-life comment examples that speak to this point:
“Your comments are strident, incendiary, ignorant and STUPID! I suggest you take a long, long walk into the desert during the heat of the day.”
“Can you explain the difference between ‘jerk’ and ‘liberal’ for me please?”
“You are a certifiable fool.”
“We are a nation founded on Christian-Judeo principles. Learn to live it and love it or GTFO.”
These comments are made by our neighbors, about our neighbors. By our community, to others in our community. By one human, to another human.
Left, right…conservative, liberal….Immigrant, America-born….Christian, Muslim. These are not labels that have to divide us. These differences do NOT give us the “right” to spew hate speech – whether it’s in person, around the supper table, or hiding behind a fake Facebook account on the St. Cloud Times online comment section.
Bottom line: name calling wasn’t acceptable in Kindergarten and, if you are honest with yourself, you know it’s not OK as an adult either. YOU get to decide your reaction – no matter how angry or hurt you are.
Rise above the hate, St. Cloud. Affect change, one respectful comment at a time.