Lord, have mercy.
I’m throwing this out there as something to think about – as I am – on this, the day after. That which rattles us to the core must be discussed and acted upon. The Gospel demands it. But it’s wise to choose where we discuss how we should act. The great temptation today will be to engage in what’s called “virtue signaling” and “performative allyship.”
The back and forth on social media, much of it between acquaintances and friends, was volatile last night. . . and will most likely be even more so today. Conversations that should be had face-to-face and one-on-one are taking place online. And where two or three are gathered together and locked in escalating disagreement. . . well, there is the entire world watching from a front-row seat. These social media conversations are less than productive as we throw gasoline on the fire of ungracious division-making.
This has prompted me to revisit Alan Jacob’s great piece, “I’m Thinking It Over.” Jacobs writes, “The internet is also a mugger, but what it demands is not my money but my attention and my reaction, and it wants them right now. And ‘I’m thinking it over’ isn’t an acceptable response.”
In his article, Jacobs goes on to offer these wise and timely guidelines for weighing in that have helped me further my understanding and practice of what I’ve come to value in my life that I call, “The Principle of the Purposeful Pause.” What would happen if we would all play by these rules and then teach our kids to do the same? After all, all of us will be living with and on social media for the rest of our lives. Perhaps one, two, or more of Jacob’s suggestions will be especially helpful to you today. . .
- I don’t have to say something just because everyone around me is.
- I don’t have to speak about things I know little or nothing about.
- I don’t have to speak about issues that will be totally forgotten in a few weeks or months by the people who at this moment are most strenuously demanding a response.
- I don’t have to spend my time in environments that press me to speak without knowledge.
- If I can bring to an issue heat, but no light, it is probably best that I remain silent.
- Private communication can be more valuable than public.
- Delayed communication, made when people have had time to think and to calm their emotions, is almost always more valuable than immediate reaction.
- Some conversations are more meaningful and effective in living rooms, or at dinner tables, than in the middle of Main Street.
In the meantime, Lord have mercy.