“We commit ourselves to honor the worth, dignity, and freedom of ourselves and all creation, and to treat others as we wish to be treated.”
The Maryville College Covenant begins with these words under the tenant of respect. When we become students, we attend a Covenant Ceremony, where we all agree to uphold the words stated.
During election times, it is important to remind ourselves of these words and the promises we made to the Maryville College community. I was scrolling through Instagram a few weeks ago, checking up on friends I have not seen in a while and looking at upcoming events on campus, when I came across a post that was shared by several Maryville College students and alumni.
It read as follows, “if u voted for Trump, I mean this in the most disrespectful way possible, I do not want anything to do with you.” The post continued to make assumptions about people who support the current president, while also name calling anyone who disagreed with them.
The biggest problem I have with the post are the words, “I mean this in the most disrespectful way possible.” When did we come to this? A respectful disagreement is always welcome, but it should be that–respectful. When we speak about others in a disrespectful manner, it makes us seem like we are unwilling to hear other opinions.
My story is not unlike others’ experiences on campus and social media. Loren Vickers, a senior English with teacher licensure major, has seen similar instances of this.
“This type of blanket assumption makes a person seem immature and willing to shut out anyone with a differing opinion,” Vickers said.
She pointed out that the disrespect was not the only issue with a post like this. Besides acting disrespectful, posting in this manner makes a person seem unwilling to listen to or accept other opinions besides their own.
The hateful comments do not stop with that one post. Vickers pointed out that she has seen several instances of disrespectful talk, mainly on Facebook and Twitter. Social media has become a place for people to be even more hateful because they can hide behind a screen when making comments. Not to say that they remain anonymous, but it can be easier to make an outright offensive comment towards a group of people when you are not sitting right in front of them.
Vickers is not the only student to come across hate on social media. Katie Leming, a sophomore history major, has recently taken a break from social media. She noticed the hate even before her pause.
“One of my favorite socials was Twitter, but it is an environment of such harsh criticisms and misunderstandings,” Leming said. She further explained that these criticisms and misunderstandings did sometimes revolve around the current election.
Looking back at the Covenant, Maryville College students are supposed to commit themselves to honor, dignity, and freedom. To me, the post that I saw on Instagram did not embody honor or dignity. While they were expressing their own freedom of speech, it should have been done in a more respectful manner.
Voicing your own opinion is something that I support. However, the previous quote was far from respectful. When people vote, they take in consideration all aspects of a candidate to choose who will best represent the country. Disagreement is not justification for attack. As students, we know that some of the best ideas come out of debates. However, in the classroom, we are held to a certain standard when it comes to discussing different ideas. Why not keep that same mentality when it comes to social media?
Vickers urged for respect as well.
“The election is one day every four years,” Vickers said. “We have to continue living with people around us far longer than twenty-four hours. Is a disagreement of political opinions really worth shattering relationships that have been going on far longer, most of which knowingly had different viewpoints to start?”
Speaking for the students that are tired of the hate, I beg you: please, think about other people before you make a post on social media. There are ways to voice your opinion without name calling or putting the blame on others. Remember the Covenant.