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FacebookRecently I was involved in a disagreement—of sorts—on Facebook, yet!

It did not end well.

I think we mutually “unfriended” or blocked each other—whatever one does when one decides not to speak to another in cyberspace. (I still do not have a handle on this Facebook thing. And people are still at me to be on those other social media outlets as well! Can you imagine?)

Anyway, my opponent’s last words to me have nagged at me ever since. Not continually, mind you. I do have a life of sorts . . .

Her words: “You are gross.”

Never mind the adolescent “Valley Girl” slang straight out of the 70s—or was it the 80s? The thing that bothered me was that she chose to label me rather than address the issue or behavior with which she disagreed.

And it strikes me that therein lies a more or less universal problem in public discourse these days. And what’s more public than Facebook? Too often we choose to attack people rather objects or ideas they may be expounding. Is it any wonder that we have become more and more polarized as a society?

Republicans and Democrats alike: take note.

What are the possibilities of compromise when one party is calling the other a “liar”? (Or “gross”?) Sincere discussion of an issue can hardly follow when one party is seething over some (nearly always unsubstantiated) epithet. Attacking the messenger, instead of offering an alternative position, hardly ever changes anyone’s mind.