I have been fortunate to have met many people over the years, using Internet technology as the way to make their acquaintances, and build friendships.
Dawnwriter’s recent article, “In Conversation with a Muslim,” and the subsequent comments that followed reminded me just how much technology has influenced the world, and how people may view the world around them. It is another media experience in life that will absolutely shape one’s perceptions.
Online communication–chat, writing sites, social media, etc.–has allowed us all to be able to “speak” up in ways in the last two decades that we never had available to us. Whether for good or evil, technology has opened up avenues for us to learn and grow in directions that interest us. And it has brought out a lot of “crazies,” most definitely!
I truly believe that, by nature, people are inherently good. I also recognize that reality tells us that there are some people who are beyond that ability, whether by damage or choice.
Regardless of race, color, creed, gender, religion, or any other label we use to identify and/or compartmentalize others, there is a choice/responsibility/accountability in our thought, behavior, and interaction toward them.
We do not always have to agree, but sometimes we must “agree to disagree.” I have often found others turn the phrase to justify their close-minded or hateful hearts. Are we even open to trying to understand by listening and learning? Or do we automatically put up the walls of intolerance, simply because of a label?
Dawnwriter is a Muslim woman. These two labels, “Muslim” and “woman,” each have beliefs (perceptions by others, in this case) attached to them. Some will make automatic assumptions about who she is, what she believes, and what her life is like, based simply on those two words. Yet, it may not have any accuracy whatsoever as to who she truly is.
I am fortunate to have met Dawnwriter online a few years ago. I have read many things she has written, and have learned many things as I sought to understand who she was as a Muslim, woman, and (most of all) a person. She is a champion in my book, as she takes on the responsibility to educate others through her writing.
If we are to open ourselves up to the world, we must first be willing to understand others, then to share our own views in order to be understood. We must challenge the preconceived notion that attached labels or stories we have been told will tell us the whole truth. It is paramount to a better world future for all, regardless of our upbringing.
How wonderful that technology can be used for good in this way!
I have met incredible people over the last 20 years of having an online presence. For a few of them, I have traveled thousands of miles to meet face-to-face, and they have done the same. For others, we have shared phone calls, snail mail and packages. The majority of them have been online friendships. All of these friendships span time–some shorter-lived, and others lasting 20 years, and still going strong.
Of course, there have been some heartaches, failures, and disappointments, but at no greater proportions had we met using other means than technology.
Communication will always be key to the process. Start the conversation with a smile and “Hello, it is nice to meet you!” in whatever language and delivery method! The acceptance, friendship and connection you will forge will be the reward!
Image credit: Pixabay