My relationship with the internet is complicated. On the one hand, I’m amazed at the ability to connect with like-minded people all over the world on very specific topics. On the other hand, at times I’m turned off by the entitlement and anger that works it’s way into threads and posts.
You’re probably nodding in agreement right now.
Social media isn’t good or bad. It’s amoral. It just magnifies and amplifies the character and perspective of the person using it. Which means it has HUGE potential to build and encourage and help, as well as tear down and criticize and destroy. That’s just the way it is. You can’t have one without the other.
Throughout my life, I’ve worked hard to be authentic and consistent. I’ve always valued “keepin’ it real” and not acting like something that I’m not. However, I also realize the importance of reserving your influence. I know it’s important to choose your words carefully because a) you could hurt someone, or b) your words could be twisted and used against you.
When I was in my 20’s, the opinionated me had more air-time. I frequently said what I felt was right, regardless of the consequences. Like it or leave it, that wasn’t my problem. Right is right.
In my 30’s, the reserved me gained some momentum. I’ve seen enough people hurt by malicious attacks that it made me a bit more cautious in expressing my thoughts very openly. I’ve never hidden or lied about what I believed about certain things. I was just a bit more quiet than I preferred to be at times.
Why? Because of a lack of trust.
For a while, I starting doubting whether kind, yet intelligent conversations could take place online about important or sensitive topics amongst people who disagree.
So I opened up a bit about some controversial issues in hopes of provoking healthy conversation. In fact, I even started a separate blog as a forum. And it got weird. And I didn’t like how the conversation was going. So I decided to stop it.
I didn’t give up on my opinions. Ask my family. :) I just decided that the world couldn’t be trusted with those kinds of issues and I’d have to stick to the less-controversial stuff.
So I did. For months. And I hated it.
But, after a while, several interactions led me to seriously reconsider these trust issues and begin to be (appropriately) open about some of the bigger, important issues (religion, social issues, etc.).
And so, at that point, I decided to trust the world again with what I believe. Here are two reasons why:
1) Because people are good.
They really are. I mean, not all of them. But the overwhelming majority. It’s more obvious in some, but true in most… we want to do what’s right and help people. I’m reminded as I look around and see the everyday interactions of people all around me. Regardless of political party, religion or social status, good can be found in most everyone.
Having worked with people and belief systems for over 20 years, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on how entrenched people were in their worldview. I’ve seen a ton of stubbornness and unwillingness to reconsider positions. But I continue to be surprised at how open most people are to logical ideas, regardless of how out-of-sync they are with what they formerly assumed to be true.
It’s more obvious in some, but true in most… we want to do what’s right and help people
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So my first motivation for giving the world “a second chance” is that people are good.
and 2) Because mean people are loud.
I didn’t say ALL people were good. Some just aren’t. To be fair, they might be good WAY DOWN DEEP, but there’s just no surface evidence. Some people are just mean. And mean people tend to be really loud.
And if the loud, mean people are the only voices we hear, then the world will have a skewed perspective on public opinion. And it could tip the scales in the mean people’s direction.
We can’t have that.
We have to be open about our opinions so that the world can see kind, logical people challenging bad ideas in a respectful manner.
No matter what side of an argument we represent, we all have mean people on our side. We can’t let them be our mascot. WE must be the mascot. We have to let logic and kindness and common humanity be the norm. Not anger and insult.
We have to be open about our opinions so the world can see nice people challenging bad ideas in a respectful manner.
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- Even if people criticize, I need to speak truth and love, as I see it.
- Even if people don’t understand, I need to speak truth and love, as I see it.
- Even if I have to block a few people on social platforms, I need to speak truth and love, as I see it.
Why? Because someone needs to hear what I have to say.
Someone is sitting in their room, alone, wondering if they’re the only one who thinks like they think. Someone is wondering if anyone else asks the questions that they ask. Someone feels like they are broken because their group rejects them and has no space for them. They don’t realize that the problem is with the group, not them.
There are some that feel they can’t “come out.” They need those of us who can to come out for them.
So, for the needs of others, and for my own sanity, I’m gonna trust the world with my beliefs… again.
How about you?
- Does any of this resonate?
- Have you struggled to “be you” because of a lack of trust?
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