Our View | Christmas Truce: A Call for Social Media Peace

By The Signal Editorial Board

You’re probably familiar with the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914. It was just five months after the outbreak of World War I, the so-called War to End All Wars.

Except, of course, for the war after that. And the one after that. And so on.

On Christmas Day 1914, there was no official cease-fire — but, as the story goes, according to History.com, the shooting came to a stop in various places along the Western Front, “in favor of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.”

Beginning Christmas Eve, German and British soldiers sang Christmas carols to each other from within their trenches. And, on Christmas Day, says History.com, the troops took a risk in the interest of acknowledging each other’s humanity:

“At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out ‘Merry Christmas’ in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.”

There’s something we can all learn from that Christmas truce more than a century ago.

And, switching things up a bit, we’re asking everyone in the Santa Clarita Valley to give us a Christmas present that we would sincerely cherish:

A day of peace.

Yes, we know. There isn’t an actual shooting war here in Santa Clarita. There are no trenches, no no-man’s land strewn with bodies of fallen soldiers. Thank goodness for that, and it puts things in perspective: No matter what we may complain about on one day or another, we are pretty fortunate to live in this time and this place.

But we would like to see a truce, nonetheless.

For the past six months, since we took ownership and management of this community’s newspaper, we have observed a virtual verbal war among neighbors here in Santa Clarita, a conflict that manifests itself most obviously on social media.

Every day, we see verbal rockets and bombs launched, from the left and the right, as political foes troll, target and trash each other into oblivion. Sometimes, we’ve been the target. Other times, it has been one politician or another. And, still other times, the target has been an average citizen who had the temerity to express an opinion that’s unpopular with one group or another.

Snark has become one of the community’s most prevalent products.

We know social media is here to stay. And we know it is a technology that lends itself to sometimes reckless, hateful and hurtful commentary.

But we’re asking, for now, for everyone to observe and share with each other one day of social media peace.

No insults. No condescension. No antagonistic barbs.

No mean memes.

On Tuesday, it’ll be Christmas, and while we imagine most of you will be busy celebrating with your families, as you should, if you do happen to venture into the jungle that has become social media, please. Don’t fire a single shot.

Instead, say and write only kind words to your neighbors who share this wonderful community with us, and recognize the humanity in them, even if you don’t agree with their politics.

That is our Christmas wish: The Santa Clarita Social Media Truce of 2018. 

Like Santa Claus, we will be checking. And we’ll report back on the results.

Can the various forums and social media groups of our community, liberals and conservatives and everyone in between, call a truce, and go 24 hours snark-free? Can kindness prevail, at least for one entire day, at least on the social media pages of this one valley, this geographically distinct place we are so proud to call home?

One day. Christmas Day. An online cease-fire, The Santa Clarita Social Media Truce of 2018.

You never know. Maybe it will become habit-forming. 

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