Sometimes we need to learn lessons the hard way – that is, through repetition after each successive failure – before we finally see we need to do things a little differently. This is a realisation which I’ve come to several times previously, but which I forget after a while.
In my case, one of the great fora for this lesson taking place is social media. All too often, I see something being discussed or opined, put forward as fact, or presented as objective ‘truth’ – and I disagree. It is at this point that I generally go wading in, even though I know this has the effect (regardless of my intentions) of adding fuel to the fire of online ‘discussion’. After this, I regret my lack of prudence and judgement and determine to do better. Until the next time comes along – and then off I go again. Now, I don’t make the same mistake all the time – but I do make it sufficiently often that it irks me and I reproach myself.
From reading a number of comments recently, I am obviously not the only person to have this experience.
So what have I learned from this?
The primary lesson is an obvious one – often, it is better to say nothing at all. The second is fairly clear, too – this is a part of my character I need to work on. There is a third lesson, also – curate what you read; if the commenter is the sort who is like a match in a powder keg, then perhaps they are best avoided.
A long time ago, I decided that I wouldn’t post on social media if what I had to offer was contentious or likely to lead to a response which might elicit a lack of charity either from me or from anyone else. To hold myself to this while still allowing me to post on particular subjects, I determined that I would comment on any such subject only if I could frame the comment as a prayer. For the most part, I stick to this. But it is on those occasions where I fail in this determination that problems inevitably follow.
And so, after several recent failures, I am redoubling my efforts to stay faithful to my clear intention as noted above.
Wish me well.