I listen to Slate's Political Gabfest podcast every Friday. Been doing so for years.
Last week, though, one of the regular participants, John Dickerson, mentioned something in passing that really deserves further exploration. He opined that Facebook might be a kind of antidote to the "echo chamber" that both the right and left have set up for themselves in America. Conservatives only listen to right-wing talk radio and the left only watch MSNBC and Jon Stewart. Each confirms their own ideas with the media they consume.
On Facebook, an old friend perhaps living now in another part of the country, or attending a different church, or having married someone of a different persuasion might actually have different thoughts and opinions, and might post these on Facebook, exposing one to a whole new way of looking at things. I know that's true in my case.
Recently, I posted a photo I took down at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration, and I felt the need to nod my head to a conservative friend that was in on the thread. I couldn't automatically assume that everyone who was reading the comment would agree with me. It's no secret that I am who I am, but I did want to be respectful that have a different outlook.
This friend I am thinking of is now an Evangelical Christian -- and although we don't see eye to eye, I really value his friendship, which has lasted decades.
That seems like the beginning of a new era of civility. It's not a lot, but if feels like something ...