Saturday, 7 January 2017

Discretion is the Better Part of Valor on Facebook

"Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. As charcoal to embers and as wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome person for kindling strife."
-- Proverbs 26:20-21

It's honesty hour again, everyone!

I, like a lot of people, get really passionate when I debate. This is a particular scourge on social media, when people who I would never, ever debate passionately with face-to-face or have a conflict with in person suddenly feel very distant. It's easy to feel as though the internet is a personal and private debating arena.

Unfortunately, that can sometimes lead to an abundance of energy being spent on trying to convince people that I am a) correct and b) I have the most logical approach. I have spent entire evenings checking my phone for the next comment on a discussion thread, carefully crafting a cutting reply, and waiting anxiously for the approval of others instead of living in the moment and spending my limited free time with my family and friends. Has this ever, in the history of my time on Facebook, changed somebody's mind? Probably not.

This is a fault that I recognize in myself quite acutely, and can be a particular source of conflict when combined with my unfortunate tendency to resist admitting that I am wrong until I've had a lot of time to leave the situation and calm down. (Ask my husband about this sometime.)

I will, therefore, attempt to more rigorously follow this line of questioning before involving myself in future social media discussions:

1. Is what I am about to say an accurate representation of my own feelings on the subject, or I am I trying to rile somebody up/make somebody approve of me?

2. Is what I am about to say intended to be helpful, instructive or constructive, or is it a "cheap shot" that I hope will make me look like the "winner" of the argument? How is my comment meant to make the person on the receiving end feel about themselves and about the situation?

3. Has what I have to say been said already? Is it necessary that this position be restated, or am I just joining a "mob?" Can I maintain a balanced and fair position which considers both perspectives before making a conclusion?

4. Is there a way to more efficiently communicate my feelings through another avenue of communication - private message, email, face-to-face - if I'm really directing my comment at a specific person?

5. Does this discussion actually matter to me or impact me? Do I have something to say which will add useful information to this discussion, or an important counterpoint which has not yet been considered? Am I the best person to introduce this information?

6. Do my actions reflect well on my morals, ethics, and virtues? Do they reflect well on the people who are associated with me, formally or informally?

Social media is a fabulous invention, and it's a real blessing to be able to stay connected to so many people all around the world 24/7, but I think it has facilitated a lot of interpersonal problems which would have been resolved easily in person. It is my job to take accountability for what I put out on social media and the impact it has on myself and others, SCA or otherwise.

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