For those of you who are new to my site, I’d like to take this time to welcome you to the growing number of dedicated and loyal readers. I think we are up to three now.
For those who don’t know me, I confess in the past I have been a bit of a hothead and have had a bad temper. I get that from my mom. I have been known to blow up at people both in person and on social media. I can be very mean. That started changing a few years ago though when I attended a communication workshop. The presenter was a retired crisis negotiator from a metropolitan police department in Ohio. I forget which one and that’s not really important anyway.
One of the things I took away from that workshop was never ever speak the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t do it. Resist the urge at all cost. It will make a bad situation worse. Count to twenty and take a deep breath and by then something else more fruitful will have entered your mind. I really took that to heart because most of my life my emotionally charged temper has gotten me into some trouble. It still has on occasion because I still fail at times. But…I continue to improve with the knee jerk reactions.
Social media can be a blessing and a curse. I have written about this before. It allows us to reconnect and communicate with people. It can also be an outlet of hate and misinformation. People are more apt to say something in the comment box that they would never say to someone’s face. My wife famously coined the phrase “keyboard courage” to describe this. I call it cowardly.
Recently someone we know made the news and not for a good reason. When the report became public I knew there would be some very awful things said about her that weren’t true. I also knew there would be love and support from people who really knew that person and knew the details. But within minutes of it making the news and news outlets sharing it on Facebook the hateful comments and lies began to appear by people who didn’t even know that person. It’s bad enough that a career has been destroyed, but now some of the things being said could destroy a reputation. Ideas are planted in someone’s mind and biases are born.
One of my pet peeves in life is the excessive use of pronouns. There are people out there that begin every sentence with the word ‘they’. An example would be, “They said it’s supposed to be a nice day today”. Or “She said that person stole from their employer”. Well who the hell is “they”? Could “they” be the meteorologist? Could “they” be the old guys at McDonald’s having coffee? Who’s “she”? My wife? My grandma? My mother-in-law? Conspiracy theories and rumors begin with the excessive use of pronouns. If your going to make a comment, use proper nouns and facts. Not pronouns and conjecture or all out lies. Someone’s reputation can hinge on what a stranger in a public comment box says.
I would say that of all the people I know, more of them than not will believe anything if it sounds good. They will believe anything if it falls in line with their own personal beliefs. I get that, that’s human instinct. We all want something to believe in to be true. That’s why we have partisanship. If everyone believed what is actually true and not what they perceived to be true we wouldn’t have bias. We wouldn’t have logical fallacies. We wouldn’t have misinformation being shared.
So if your are going to make a comment in the comment box, take some time to just cool your jets. Think about what it is you are going to say. Why are you saying it? Is it true or just your opinion? Did you hear it from a reliable source that could be backed up with facts or is it just one’s opinion and conjecture? Would you say it to their face or only say it from behind a screen? What is your endgame? Why say it at all? If you do make the comment, can you realize that others may not see it your way? Can you have a dialogue with someone that is reasonable or are you going to say, “It’s my post, my comment, I can say whatever I want” when you get challenged on it.
That old saying that my mom use to say to me when I was a kid, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. Yeah, well these days words are starting to hurt people’s lives and their reputations because of knee-jerk reactions that can’t be backed up with facts by people who don’t want to be told they could be wrong.
Oh just one more thing:
You didn’t think you were going to get all the way through this without a Bible verse did you? James 1:19 “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger;”
So let’s all cool our jets, and slow down on making those comments on social media. Remember that we can’t always convey things like humor, sarcasm, and emphasis in the typed words of the comment box. I’ll give you an example. Remember in the second paragraph I mentioned I get my explosive temper from my mom? That was sarcasm. Mom doesn’t have a temper. Anyone that knows my mom knows that. But if you didn’t, you’d think you’d have to stand clear of her. But those of you that know her probably got a little laugh about it. It’s just one example of how we can misread people’s comments or form bias. One more reason we should always slow down and think about what we say and how we say it both in person and in the comment box.