It’s time to turn off and tune in

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It’s time to turn off and tune in

Jason Green, Contributor

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I am a liberal. I am anti-Trump. I am pro-LGBTQ. I am an atheist. I am pro-gun control.

Those are all things that I stand for and up until about two weeks ago, all my Facebook and Twitter accounts really showed that as I posted meme after meme affirming my opinion. I argued with anyone who didn’t believe in the same things that I did, usually to the point that those people unfriended me.

I’m no longer friends with my sister or mom on Facebook. I usually claim that it was their fault. I’ve been told more than once by people that I know that I went too far on Twitter with someone that they know.

I say all of this as a way of showing why I quit Facebook and Twitter. I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t want to hear all of the stupid opinions of stupid people and I didn’t want to hear what they had to say. I wanted to write my opinion and tell them to shut up because they’re wrong.

Now, without social media in my life, I’m left to talk to actual people. I recently wrote an article about a country music festival at Ardovino’s Desert Crossing sponsored by Sportsman’s Elite gun store.

As a liberal, I went into the writing of the article with an opinion in mind about the gun store and everyone involved, seeing as how the concert was mere days after the Las Vegas shooting.

Without Facebook and Twitter to help me build my anger prior to heading to the venue, I feel like I went in a little more open-minded than usual. Add in the fact that nobody that I interviewed was as I expected, and I can honestly say that I am even more of a changed man.

The gun store owner, Don Pendergras, who I had pictured as a huge, rootin’-tootin’ redneck with a MAGA hat and a sub-machine gun under each arm, was very thoughtful and generous in arranging the entire concert for hurricane relief.

Additionally, even as an NRA member who doesn’t support gun control as much as I do, we found a nice middle ground when we discussed mental health and how much more the government can do in this area.

Instead of being on the internet and just typing my opinion over and over, while someone else types their opinion over and over in no real semblance of conversation, Don and I were able to converse and really find things that we both could agree on. We also were able to acknowledge that maybe the guys in Washington could find a way to do the same.

Once I began interviewing the country musicians, I realized that maybe even playing country music doesn’t mean that they are that different from someone like me. Interviewing a band, like the El Paso-born Dirty River Boys, also helped me see that even a successful music act is not that different than America as a whole.

If they can make it work, why can’t I?

Marco Gutierrez from The Dirty River Boys is a lot like myself when it comes to his political beliefs. The entire time we were talking, I found myself nodding in agreement and responding in the affirmative. Gutierrez is a liberal and believes in gun control, in almost direct opposition to the beliefs of his bandmate Colton James. After Gutierrez and I finished our 10-minute interview, I tracked down CJ, as his bandmates refer to him.

Although, CJ and I didn’t have any of the same beliefs politically, the fact that he owns so many machine guns, which I am very familiar with from my time in the Army, gave us plenty of middle ground to talk from.

Eventually our conversation took us to sleepless nights on the road for him and in the Army for me. Thirty or 40 minutes later, I found myself exchanging numbers with him and searching for The Prospector photographer to apologize for taking so long.

Yet again, I had set aside the differences that I wouldn’t have even allowed a friend to have on Facebook in order to talk, and found a very good new friend and broadened my horizons at the same time.

In getting away from the fake news of Facebook and Twitter, I have been forced to find new and more secure news sources. I have also been forced to get out and engage with actual people.

Most importantly, I’ve been forced to just be a better person. I have to listen to people and give them time before speaking. I have to consider their opinion and then have a genuine conversation, all things that you really don’t do online.

I can honestly recommend this change to everyone, even you backwoods, redneck conservatives.