I was surprised by how many of them say that they have deliberately chosen to socialize only with people like themselves. It’s not at all because they don’t want to talk to anybody who disagrees. It’s because they are afraid.
Afraid of what? They’re afraid that if they say something that offends a liberal, there will be hell to pay. Whether it was something genuinely offensive that they said thoughtlessly, and are willing to apologize for, or whether it was something harmless that nevertheless caused offense to the liberal, they are afraid that they will be condemned as a hater. They are afraid that the aggrieved liberal will spread a tale of their wickedness on social media, and they will be left to defend themselves in a world in which their demographic qualities (race, religion, politics, social class, etc.) will be taken as dispositive evidence of their guilt. They are afraid that in the best-case scenario, the sort of thing that in earlier times would have been something people could discuss, even argue over, while remaining friends would now cause a social conflagration that would cost people friendships — and in the worst-case scenario, one error, real or imagined, could bring everything in their lives crashing down.
I said to the pastor that I don’t know how we escape this, given that social media is never going away. Somebody’s reputation can be destroyed with remarkable ease.