By Andrew Witzel

We’re hopelessly divided as a country, that is obvious. Conversations all over the Internet have ended with the phrase “Nice try troll, buh bye” just before you get blocked or unfriended. Have we devolved so far that no one remembers how to act like an adult to another adult that is, shockingly, not in agreement with what you believe?

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, etc., etc.; almost everyone with connectivity available to them has at least one account on social media. There is one fatal flaw with 24/7 interconnected communication via electronic means; it’s only 7% of what we consider “communication.” The other 93%, that we sacrifice when communicating online, is made up of spoken words, voice tone and body language. Unless you’re making videos and having people reply back with videos, then communication is literally just words on the screen.

I recently wrote a piece, called Repairing The Divide, that focused on one particular experience and, upon reflection, I’m no longer angry with. I’m disappointed. Disappointed that despite my willingness to listen and see their point of view, it fell on deaf ears. Disappointed that the exchange left me questioning why I continued to read them despite being so far apart on views. Disappointed mostly because this is an experience that so many of us, right now, are having to deal with on a daily basis on social media.

After reading my piece again, I realized that I started to mirror the vitriol and one-dimensional comments with my own in similar fashion. I’m confident enough with myself to admit that to everyone. Conspiracy theories of aliens on our world not withstanding, we’re all human and humans will always make mistakes. The ability to reflect on ones mistakes though and learn from them is what separates the leaders from the followers. Our country is badly in need of a leader that can unite the people. Several people are close, but don’t have the following yet to affect the majority; Evan McMullin, Gary Johnson (to an extent), Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard to name a few.

There was a time not too long ago that we could sit down to dinner with friends and have a conversation about politics or religion and not want to kick them out of the house. We can get back to that, if we could just start listening again and not taking offense to every little comment that differs from our own point of view. I’m a logical, level-headed, intelligent person and can spin theories all day about all the things we need to fix. I’m also not too proud to admit when I’m wrong or when information contradicts my previous point of view or opinion. Don’t send me article upon article, without your own context, trying to prove your point. I’m not you, I can’t read your mind, if you want me to understand your point based on an article, talk TO me, not AT me. A healthy open dialogue is what I can promise in return if you’re willing to do the same.

We live in one of the greatest countries in the world. I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else. I’m patriotic and respect our men and women in the armed services. I’m American! All I ask is to be treated as such when it’s my turn to speak after listening. I’m so tired of being disappointed.