Here to Learn, Not to ‘Like’

I was reading this prevalent and interesting article last week that was brought to my attention by one of my wonderful Twitter fans (@andrea_shippey).

I got to the end of the fifth paragraph where the article states: “Alberta’s NDP leader also slammed the Tory government’s $30,000 weekend advertisement in the New York Times making the argument for TransCanada’s 1,800-kilometre pipeline as 'misleading greenwash.'”

And thought to myself…and I quote: “Yep, I like it.” Clicking the proverbial “like” button in my mind, I nearly closed the page.

I had read five paragraphs of twenty-three, concluded that I agreed with the sentiments of the article and, thus, felt I was finished with it.

It dawned on me, as my cursor hung in wait to move me onto the next article of interest, that this is one of the troubles with our new social media world. We are not reading to learn, anymore, we are reading to approve or disapprove, agree or disagree, “like” or not like, as if that is the ultimate purpose of reading anything in the first place. 

As it turns out, the following eighteen paragraphs contained information that was interesting and pertinent to me.

I learned that politicians in Canada are not arguing over whether or not it is okay for Canada to be producing the world’s dirtiest oil at a time when we are on the brink of all-out climate crisis, but are arguing about how they can use that oil to best serve select economic interests.

I learned that “Alberta’s PC government is suffering a massive revenue shortfall this year, in part because of a bottleneck of heavy oil in the U.S. Midwest” and that – most likely due to the pressure this competition inherently presents for Alberta's oil producers – they have admitted a need to step up their “commitments around greenhouse gas targets” (thankfully something is seeping through).

Had I “liked” the article and closed the page at paragraph five, I would have walked away from the experience without having learned these things. Yes, I would have become a little more familiar with my own opinion, but is not intelligent discourse, by its very design, a tool meant to challenge, not affirm our opinions?

So, as I continue to try to keep-up within this high-paced, social media world, and spend my time ingesting other people’s hard work, I hope I can remember to periodically remind myself: “I am here to learn, not to like.”

Evangeline Lilly is a Canadian actress best known for her role as Kate Austen in the television series "Lost."

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