The world can feel like an angry place, and technology often contributes to misunderstandings, with misuse and miscommunication feeding that anger. The instant response and constant barrage of information further exacerbates the problem. Self-discipline seems to be something that is no longer valued, and this combination can cause much harm.
It is not uncommon to hear people yelling and swearing on their cell phones or read nasty posts on social media, so how can we work together to turn around this phenomenon and recognize when we have become part of the problem?
Breathe, pray, repeat. Take ten or twenty seconds, breathers, minutes or hours to respond to texts or posts that upset you. Take it to pray and consider if response is even necessary or productive.
Ask yourself if you would say what you are about to post to anyone’s face. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t text it or post it. Always consider that tone of voice cannot be heard in a text or on social media and that sarcasm may be heard as real feelings.
Research information and quotes before you say or post it. Just because social media says a quote is from this or that person, doesn’t mean it is true. Always double check facts before you put them out there.
Focus on specific issues rather than political sides or politics in general. As Catholic Christians, we should not fit clearly into a political side. We should help draw attention to specific issues and the Catholic perspective on those issues.
Use humor. Humor is often a valuable tool to share a point of view or start a conversation without offending someone. When you feel the inclination to react in anger, consider using humor instead.
Be honest and vulnerable. We all know people who post only positive or mainly negative things. Neither of those is reality. When we do share, we should be honest and do so with the intent of providing information or explanation, seeking prayer, or giving consolation. We can encourage each other in our journeys rather than compete in joy or misery.
Step away from the devices. I’m not sure when we started to believe that something wasn’t real or important until it was social-media official. When we have an impulse to share, take a minute to consider what and why you are about to disclose. Is it necessary? Will it harm or help? What do you hope to gain by sharing that information?
Enter into true dialogue. Make time to discuss problems, issues, and disagreements face-to-face in a calm and respectful manner.
Don’t make disagreements or disappointments public. Whatever you put out into the social media world is their forever. If your feelings have been hurt by your child, spouse, friend or coworker, pray for them. Do not post (even a veiled) comment about the situation. It can harm your relationship and cause others to question your judgement, not the judgement of the person who injured you. Furthermore, because we are emotionally fragile beings, we often think comments like these are directed to us when they may not be. It is easier to avoid the confusion altogether than to try and clean up hurt feelings later.
Copyright 2019 Mary Lou Rosien