Ever have those days where things just rub you the wrong way? The news, friends, co-workers, your Facebook stream. I admit there are days, especially within social media, where I’ve just had enough.
While disagreeing theses days, people are much less civil, judgement is passed quickly, and popular opinion outweighs personal conviction.
I can’t stand what I’m seeing. Once respectable people posting lies as if they were true, sharing polarizing and emotionally charged headlines that are unsubstantiated, laughing at hateful memes and comments, and ostracizing anyone who doesn’t completely agree with them.
These constant war-like posts, hate-filled conversations, and judgmental memes will drain your energy, your compassion, and your attitude. And your eyes are taken off of what’s really important.
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If my hunch is right and I’m not alone in my social media sentiment, then I have good news, friends. We have options!
Option 1: Unplug
The first choice we have is to stop the noise. Stop looking at the feeds that are poisoning your thoughts, charging your emotions, and ultimately killing your attitude. Sometimes the right choice is to step away for a time. This is fairly difficult in today’s constantly switched on and connected world. Who would have ever imagined that the words, “I have to check Facebook” would dictate how we would spend our time and energy?
How do you unplug and change that? Here’s what I do. I open Facebook, clear out my notifications (only because seeing a huge number there bugs me), and I log out. Seriously, that’s it. I don’t look at the feed, and I certainly do not scroll. Because when I do, I’m sucked in to the drama.
So I unplug. If you do this you might have to overcome feelings of maybe you missed something. But you probably didn’t. Try this, but you’ll need some discipline to either not log in at all, or just do not scroll!
Option 2: Unfriend
You wouldn’t hang out on the weekends with people who are toxic to your thoughts and emotions, and you wouldn’t enjoy having a beer with someone who just constantly aggravates you, right? So why should you tolerate them in your social media life? Delete them.
This is where I’m at right now. I don’t have time to deal with the drama and I don’t have the inclination to get involved with the endless debates. If you’re toxic to my thinking, you’re off my list.
Another more extreme option is to delete yourself. I can’t say I’ve even flirted with this idea yet, but some people I know have successfully executed this option and deleted their accounts. For some people, this is the right thing to do. Just don’t do it out of anger, I think you might eventually resent that.
Option 3: Engage
Honestly, this is no longer a real option for me in most cases. Not because I can’t, but because I just don’t want to.
My reasons are because I simply don’t want to argue and debate with people over written text. There’s way too much that goes wrong when people can’t see and hear each other. Tones are assumed. And really, most people type things they would never say face to face. That’s not genuine.
But maybe you can do this more effectively than others. If this is your option, then by all means engage. But respond with truth and love. Control your anger. And don’t beat your head against an unrelenting wall, and never fall into the trap of allowing your emotions to respond.
Option 4: Vent
I’m going to be transparent here. I don’t do this well. But here’s a story.
The classic author Mark Twain had an angry response problem. The way I heard it is that Twain’s wife, Olivia Langdon Clemens, was his buffer. Except he didn’t know it. When a publisher would turn down Mark Twain’s writing, or someone would write an unfavorable review, he would sit down and pen anger-laced responses. Apparently, Olivia was the one who mailed them, only she didn’t! The story is that she would tuck the letters away somewhere, knowing that her husband just needed to vent.
I don’t know how accurate that story is, but it’s valuable. And apparently there may be a “lost art of the unsent angry letter.” It’s impossible for me to tell you how many posts I’ve written and never posted. I write out my thoughts or my responses, read them (often out loud), and then delete them. And log out. Maybe you need to try that.
Option 5: Post
Or maybe you actually do need to hit post. If this is you, then allow me to offer a few words of advice after seeing otherwise good people blow their character. Not to mention, also having done this on more than one occasion myself only to later resent my vent.
1. Don’t target people. Don’t drop names or tag offending friends. Nothing good would come of that. And never, ever threaten someone. You could go to jail.
2. Keep it clean. When someone vents with 3 and 4 letter foul words in every other sentence, it takes away from their message. Keep it clean for public consumption. Although some people have made an art out of using swear words, if you can release without stringing a bunch of offensive adjectives together, you’ll likely discover one way to vent without resent.
3. Only the facts. Don’t throw made up stuff and call it truth. That’s dishonest and in poor character. Back your claims up with valid sources when you can, too.
4. Respond in love. Don’t hate someone because she disagrees with you and don’t judge that guy who contradicts you. State the facts, stick to them, don’t let your topic be baited and switched, but let love for someone who thinks or acts different than you be your guide.
Vent Without Resent
The bottom line here is to not do or say things you’ll regret. Jesus instructed that we are to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). He also taught that we are “not of this world” (John 17:14). That means you and I don’t respond to things like the world does.
I don’t know when it became the thing to judge and hate someone because they disagree. That’s the world’s philosophy and it’s deceptive:
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8
So don’t get caught up in the things that are distracting the world from what’s ultimately important, and that being Christ crucified and resurrected. It’s easy to identify those distractions, they’re often the things people are fussing about over social media.
Don’t let the world’s problem be what identifies who you are. It’s possible to address worldly issues while maintaining a Christ centered focus.
Sometimes that means you have to unplug. Or maybe you have to speak your mind. Whatever it is you have to do, just do it well.