Stating your viewpoint and supporting desired change clearly and cleanly can be a positive and valuable thing. But have you ever noticed posts on forums or social media that are effectively saying “I hate haters, don’t tolerate intolerant people and fight against war” or even more bizarrely “fight for peace”? Facebook, Twitter etc are often full of posts that give energy to negative issues, and manage to turn apparently positive points of view into a vitriolic drama. (Totally positive stuff further on – keep reading!)
The long strings of ‘back and forth posts’ between people with opposing viewpoints can get very unpleasant and personal even between people who have never met. When someone is passionate about something, it’s all too easy to get involved in the drama around it, which can easily lead to behaving a bit like the people they are struggling against.
That’s not a great way to ‘convert’ someone to a point of view or resolve an issue. The old term ‘flame wars’ is pretty accurate as both sides are adding fuel to the fire, putting energy into holding onto their ‘righteous’ viewpoint.
I don’t normally engage with negative stuff, but sometimes it catches me unawares. A couple of days ago I caught myself getting defensive and had half written a reply to someone’s negative comment on a third party’s post. I was trying to support someone being open and vulnerable and generally positive, but I had become quite frustrated by the muddiness of multiple misunderstandings in the thread and my post was becoming a bit of a rant. I tried tweaking it but I soon realised there was no option for sanity’s sake but to leave the page and stop notifications for the post. My heart rate settled as once again I began to breathe slowly and gently…..hmmm. I consider myself a fairly calm person, but in defending something positive somehow I’d ended up feeling bad rather quickly.
I do aim to create posts myself which aren’t too antagonistic, but I also want to raise awareness, and sometimes people find it pretty challenging, no matter how tactful I try to be! Let’s face it, there are a lot of strong opinions from opposing viewpoints in the world. Healthy debate is one thing, but getting embroiled in conflicts and personal attacks (on facebook or wherever) doesn’t have a lot of value most of the time.
How can we step back and let go of the drama cycle? Sometimes we have to consider whether ‘defending’ our posts (or someone else’s) is the right thing to do. If it is, how do we do it, and if not, how can we feel good about walking away?
Step one, notice! If you become aware that you’re getting riled up, flinging angry or defensive ‘victim’ posts around, feeling wronged, taking something personally and/or instantly responding to a string of someone else’s comments please take some time out from posting.
Consider responding in other ways. You could:
- Take the time to return to calm before responding. (you’ll have your own favourite ways to do that!)
- Release the need to make the other side ‘wrong’. It might be appropriate to mention the consequences of a behaviour or philosophy, but unless you’re expert at phrasing it tactfully, don’t bother. All it does is trigger more rage and defensiveness from someone’s ‘righteousness’. Um, don’t let that be you.
- How about phrasing your reply so that instead of being against something you stick with being FOR what you want to create?
- Reread before posting. If it’s turned into a rant, delete it!
- This might be challenging, but is really worth doing: hold loving and positive intentions for all concerned. You don’t know what’s led a person to their particular viewpoint. A couple of favourites of mine are using sending love and light and/or using Ho’oponopono which is quick and simple once you know how. (I’ll post about it soon.)
- Review the thread and see if you can find a point of agreement that can be the basis of a new type of conversation.
- Get some perspective. Ask yourself if this thread be worth remembering in a year’s time. Imagine the Dalai Lama, a high court judge, a little child talking about the thread – what would they think of it?
- If you have to, just say your piece once, then STOP!
- If you can’t find a way to make it into a healthy conversation, the best option is probably to delete the conversation, or at least stop notifications for it. If necessary you can block the person concerned, at least temporarily. If you’re in a group where that sort of thing happens a lot, just delete yourself quietly.
- Let it go. Look for something positive to engage with. Play nicely. Or just go and do something you enjoy in the real world for a while In case you’re really struggling to relax and let go, I’ve added a link to one of my relaxation tracks which you can have for free. It’s a little over 20 minutes. Please don’t listen unless you’re somewhere you can close your eyes and relax. Download HERE.
Remember social media is just a platform for opinions. I really recommend that we use it for positive connections, valuable education (giving and receiving) and a bit of fun. Peace of mind comes from living in alignment with our highest values. I’m pretty sure drama and conflict aren’t on that list.
That’s just my opinion. Whatever yours is, I wish you peace and joy.
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