Who wants to grab coffee?
Emily McConville | Thursday, February 9, 2017
“Too much conflict, not enough conversation. Who wants to grab coffee?”
Megan posted the status a couple of weeks ago. I liked it. Megan and had I met and become friends over the summer, when we were interning in the same city, but we hadn’t caught up in awhile. Her status benignly promoted reconnecting. It deserved a like.
A couple days later, I got a message. “I do believe coffee is in order?”
So we got coffee. We sat in the library lobby and caught up. We talked about our senior theses and post-graduation plans and dating. We talked a little bit about politics and how worried we both are. We said hi to mutual friends who walked by.
As it turns out, Megan was working her way through people who had liked that status, sometimes reconnecting with people she hadn’t seen in a long time, in person if they were on campus, virtually if they were far away. I asked her about her project again this past Wednesday, and she said she had caught up with 10 people so far, all of whom she hadn’t talked to in awhile.
As I suspected, the reason had to do with politics; rather, politics on social media. Megan was sick of seeing negativity on Facebook. “I think a lot of conflict comes from a lack of communication and understanding,” she texted me. “I thought I’d rather have coffee and chat than argue behind the mask of a screen.”
So the motivation was political, but the result was not. Megan told me I was one of only three people who actually talked about politics with her. Our own political views are similar, but she said she talked to one other person with whom she had some disagreements. “We could acknowledge our differences and still part as friends,” she said. For the rest, politics didn’t come up at all.
Which is an interesting, though not new, political statement in itself. It’s something in between talking about politics at the expense of everything else, and refusing to acknowledge at all that current events permeate our lives and relationships. It’s in between trying to bring perhaps-unwilling parties together for some kind of vague “civil discourse,” and trying to avoid discourse at all.
Don’t get me wrong, I can and will disagree vehemently with others — political questions are so often moral questions, and it’s difficult to agree to disagree on, say, the value or rights of a person. But I would prefer to discuss those questions, if they come up, face to face, over coffee, constantly reminded that there is a face behind the screen.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.