This election is the first long term, high intensity emotional event to take place since these social media sites have become so popular. Everyone thought the internet was going to be so much fun because it was instant sharing and communication. Crazy ideas of this completely unfettered freedom of expression paving the way for a Utopian society filled everyone’s head. It appears that this is not so true after all. What has become painfully obvious is that civilization is founded on the social rules we choose to follow. The smartest person in the world will behave like a spoiled little child if they do not choose to follow some standard of behavior.
Here are a few things I have re-learned from this election social media thing.
For every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. This is to say, if you read a news story that pisses you off and you immediately unload your anger onto Facebook, you will receive a large amount of anger in return. This is normal and healthy. It is not anyone else’s fault. In fact, this proves that our emotional communication system is working perfectly. (The good part is that it works with other emotions too. Like love.) However, if you wish to remain in contact with people and still communicate your perspective without inviting the miserable backlash, a process for growing raw emotion into constructive communication is handy. (Sometimes a person might be in the mood for a fight, then let it rip. Saturday night is indeed alright for fighting.)
- Never react publicly. React privately. Pen and paper works well. Write until you can breathe again, then let it sit for at least a day.
- If it is something that really means something to you it will still be in your head the following day. If it is, then write out your thoughts in a rough draft…. using some composition skills. If it is no longer in your head after a day, then it clearly didn’t mean all that much to you. Certainly not enough to withstand a miserable backlash of anger and resentment for. Let this draft sit for at least another day.
- When you come back to this draft and reread it, notice your emotion level and your clarity of thought as you read along. It is best to assume that this will be exactly what your reader will experience. If you get so emotional that you cannot follow along with the writing, then it needs to be worked over a bit. It is good that there is emotion involved, but not so much emotion that the logic is lost.
- If you think this is too much work or if you think you need to share your ideas immediately, it means you lack the emotional maturity to discuss sensitive topics with anyone outside of your family or close circle of friends. Stay away from politics and stick to sharing only pictures of your children and vacations.
This process is important if we wish to make changes to our election process and our government. Emotion must be involved, but not so much that logical structure is lost.