In a world of constant activity and social interaction, it can be impossible to do nothing.
We’ve all been there, that moment you find yourself in the middle of a personal conflict that you didn’t anticipate. When without reason, or understanding, you become the centre of someone else’s concern. Your actions and words called into question, along with your character. And you have no idea how you got here or what to do.
I actually can’t count the number of times I’ve been through or witnessed this pattern. It’s often a price you pay for standing up for your beliefs and going against the grain. Sometimes it’s just because you’re breathing…
Your conviction is your strength, and your integrity is everything.
I don’t think anyone truly sets out to make anyone else feel inferior, but being faced with strong opinions and characters can play on a persons insecurities. This in turn can flip a person’s perspective to blame, and put you at the centre of their projection. I’ve done this myself. All too often we become aggravated by others for traits we actually see in ourselves, even if we’re not consciously aware of it, just as this quote by Alyson Noel illustrates.
So now we find ourselves with a new problem. Blame and projection is nothing new, its something most of us do, but everyday inter-personal accessibility means that we handle the situation completely differently.
Arguments, disagreements or differences of opinion that would once have been quite private affairs are now public. Positively this opens the door for public awareness about issues that would once have slipped under the public radar; the me too campaign is a great example of how social media can be used to share a message or create a movement. It also means however that our lives are all subject to the same social exposure.
Now it’s not just celebrities whose lives are blasted all over the internet. We do it to each other.
So what do you do when you’re being attacked or your life is being invasively published over the internet? Personally I have one simple rule… and whilst it’s essence is to do nothing, you’re doing more than ‘do nothing’…
Don’t feed the trolls? What the heck does that mean?
To me it’s ignoring the call to arms over a post which attacks one of my deepest held beliefs. It’s not rising to a post which has been written to demand attention and most importantly it’s keeping my social circle small and secure. I don’t share my drama unless there is a utilitarian conclusion to it, and I don’t engage in arguments unless truly necessary.
It is so hard when I truly love to debate ideas, theory and understanding until they’re in tatters, but I’m not willing to do that to the lives of other people or myself. It simply isn’t necessary, or productive. When confronted with a difficult situation such as the betrayal of a friend try for just a moment, to do nothing.
Errm, excuse me? DO NOTHING?
Yep, you heard me. In that moment of doing nothing you have a choice about what happens next. If you allow yourself to pause, you can act with purpose instead of reacting. And if you’re wondering what the difference is, then here is my take on it;
Action requires a thought process and considers the results of said action, whereas a reaction is often instinctive. When we react without a pause for thought we open the door to perpetuate and often inflame the situation. When we act with thoughtful intention, we take controlled steps towards a conclusion. In all conflict there is choice. You can chose retain control of yourself and your desired outcome to the situation, and act accordingly, or chose reaction. And whilst reaction has a hugely important function in life (think emergency situations…), it doesn’t always serve you best on social media.
I’ve taken a week before to decide if and how I wanted to respond to a situation so that I didn’t react with anger or malice. I wrote several really angry status updates and never posted them until I had time to process how I really felt about being betrayed. After I’d made peace with how I felt, I could take whatever step I felt best to move on. And whatever I felt I needed to do, whether it be a private conversation to ask why or just a straight up block-delete, I don’t name, shame or publicly out unless there is a true public duty to do so.
When it boils down to it, your integrity really is everything. Do nothing, take a moment, make a choice. Life’s too short for drama.