NEW ORLEANS — In the wake of the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, President Trump along with many members of Congress are calling on Americans to calm tempers and ease tensions.
That may be easier said than done, especially on social media. As a reporter; emails, Tweets and online comments are expected on any given story. When the stories are about issues like race and politics the number of messages and the anger within them, tends to go up. I’ll usually tell people that if they feel strongly about it, I’m willing to talk to them on the phone. One woman recently took me up on the offer.
“I was kind of surprised, because I think most people don’t want to talk today,” said Susan Cassou.
Cassou sent me an email after she saw my report on the calls to boycott the Rouses supermarket chain after its former co-owner admitted he attended the now infamous Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol. Instead of an online exchange, we spoke on the phone to hear each other out.
“You explained to me your job and what you were doing and why you felt that you had to ask those questions and so I understood that more,” said Cassou.
We may not have agreed on everything, but we understood where the other person is coming from. That would’ve been harder if we had a Twitter war or collided on comments on Facebook.
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“It opened the doorway for some true personal communication which is lacking today. There’s a lot of social media, texting different forms of communication that doesn’t not allow for any personal interaction,” said Cassou.
Social media can be a powerful tool and very effective in relaying information. It can also be an echo chamber. Cassou says sometimes we need to physically hear someone else’s voice.
“If nothing else on the telephone, but preferably face to face. And don’t be afraid to ask questions and to listen. That’s the only way you learn. You don’t have to agree but you can have respect for another person’s opinion,” said Cassou.
Neither of us are naïve about the current state of division but having one simple conversation made it seem less toxic.