Today someone told me a story. I listened. And I was thoroughly annoyed by what I heard. Her story repeated an experience of mine nearly verbatim, so here I am in front of an open laptop on a Saturday evening. I won’t repeat what she told me out of respect, but I will say this:
There is good in conversation. There is good in sitting down with people face-to-face in an attempt to work out differences. There is good in giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming the best instead of jumping straight to the worst when people are involved. There is good in being kind and loving…and conversely staying silent when neither of those emotions are taking up residence inside our minds. There is good in thinking before we speak and weighing our words to make sure we can live with the impulsive decisions we make today, because harsh words are always followed by regret. That’s the way God made us, like it or not.
On the other hand, nothing good can be found in the opposite.
For some reason as of late, that doesn’t seem to matter.
When did we become a people who would rather lash out at others from behind phones or computer screens than look each other in the eye? When did we become a people who make a practice of reading other people’s minds and intent based on what they post on social media, and then calling them out based on what we think they mean? When did we become a people who feel the need to say every last thing on our minds, no matter who and what might get hurt by our words? When did we become a people who need to knock other souls down in order to feel better about ourselves? When did we become a people who enjoy inflicting pain because we’ve decided someone deserves it…because someone besides ourselves might be at fault? When did we become a people who enjoy finding so much fault in the first place?
And above all else, when did we become a people who are so incredibly angry?
Don’t believe me? Get on Twitter. If you’re like me, you’ll post and get right back off because every other tweet—whether about Trump or not about Trump—is volatile. Every other tweet—whether about Taylor Swift or not about Taylor Swift—is filled with name-calling. That isn’t okay. It’s never okay.
So, what to do?
Frankly, I have no idea.
But here are a couple of thoughts anyway.
Refuse to participate, even if it means you have to remove yourself from the situation completely. Decide not to participate from now on, even if you’ve found yourself participating in the past. Don’t subtweet, direct tweet, or @people if it’s negative. If you already have, delete what you can and decide to be better from now on. And that applies to everything—tweeting, instaslamming, texts, etc. Find whatever triggers you and take a break from it. If you are the problem, practice a little silence and self-control. Silence can never be misquoted. It can hurt and be misinterpreted, however, so don’t stay that way for long.
Most importantly, when your silence is over, speak life. Prop people up. Refuse to tear down. Compliment compliment compliment. Encourage encourage encourage. Tell your favorite people they still matter and always will. Tell your not-so-favorite people whatever is kind or nothing at all, just don’t tell them off.
And lastly, I’ll say this. Remember the days before social media when we went hours and days and sometimes weeks without checking in with each other? Remember when that didn’t really bother us? Now, I’m not advocating going weeks without speaking to the people you’re supposed to care about. But remember when we weren’t always obsessed with needing daily affirmations in the form of likes and retweets? I, for one, remember being happy when the phone didn’t ring on Thursday night. Now, if someone doesn’t like something I post on Thursday, I wonder what I’ve done wrong.
Can we please stop letting social media and our own false assumptions ruin relationships? Maybe that’s too much to ask, but I’m asking it anyway.
And that’s all I have to say. I realize not everyone will like this post, and that’s okay. There is no “like” button on my website, thank goodness. Thanks for reading anyway. No matter what you think of my words, I’m glad you stopped by. Happy Saturday night, friends.