I have been easily agitated on social media lately. I know it is happening to you too.
It happens when we get caught up in the polarization vortex. You know how it works:
- We see people emphatically present opinions.
- We either agree/disagree and act subjectively.
- Sides form. Opinion wins. Voices get louder.
- Suddenly, you can’t sleep thinking about someone else’s stupid statement, and it becomes a personal issue.
Our current news media feeds on this, as does the average Twitter user.
A friend of mine posted this recently, on the eve of the US election:
When we choose the polarizing opinions that are here today, gone tomorrow, over the person holding them, we lose a lot more than we gain. A simpler way to put it is:
“Love your neighbour as yourself.”
You may have heard that one before, but it is said to underpin all other laws in the Bible. Stands true today. If I love the other person, I don’t have to agree with them, make awkward small talk with them as they say something racist, or even smile all the time when I see them. It means I see them as imago Dei: Made in the image of God. It changes my perspective in many scenarios. It does not mean there is no law in place, or that a person is not hateful to others, or even that they will suddenly be less obnoxious. It just means I will love those in my path.
Or at least it should. I hope.
So how does this impact your world? How does it change your perspective going through Covid-19 as a community, or through landmark elections, or how you tweet about it all in the coming weeks? Here are 2 litmus tests for you, one from a search engine, the other from the Bible:
Did you know Google uses the acronym EAT for what information is deemed relevant and helpful? It stands for:
Expertise. Authoritativeness. Trustworthiness.
Not a bad list for all of us to go by when it comes the information we encounter and distribute. If we are looking for a counterpoint, and only a counterpoint, we will find it. It may not fit any of the above criteria, but there is plenty of it out there to be discovered, and misused. It might be helpful going forward if we all imagine our favourite English teacher leaning over our shoulder as we are about to post something, and wonder what quality it presents. (You can read more about EAT and search engine stuff here: SEO trends to know in 2021)
Then there is the list from the book of Philippians; a simple verse which gives a simple approach to changing the beginning of the thought process. What are you centering your mind on when you approach the day, the dialogue, or the decision? (This is a direct quote from my post on our pandemic response, back on May 13. You can read the rest of it here: Pandemic Response.)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
“That’s it. That’s the whole shebang. Those key words are the ones I use when organizing rules for a group dialogue. They are helpful in setting the stage for peeling apart hurts from the past, and sorting the building blocks for the future. These are words for any situation, to help an individual ‘reset’ their mindset for being at peace, and being purposeful.
So, looking at your future responses to things you read online, in your emails, or hear from friends. Ask yourself this:
- Is it true?
- Is it noble?
- Is it right?
- Is it pure?
- Is it lovely?
- Is it admirable?
- Is it excellent or praiseworthy?
If it’s not, is it worth giving it free mental space?”
That is a very good question. Maybe that is something to consider with a lot of things these days. How much free mental space am I giving up to things that are outside my personal control? My emotional energy? My personal development?
I hope this helps you on the journey! I look forward to hearing from you as you work towards leading with freedom in all areas of your life!