We've reach the end of the week of another election year. It's been rather intense, especially with social media providing additional venues in which to research and discuss the issues. Sadly I've seen some discussions get down to the point of name calling and caustic speech of the most derogatory nature. Coincidentally enough, the bible study I've been going through this week has been focusing on the book of Proverbs, and more poignantly, how powerful the tongue is. It is amazing how our words can so easily devastate or elevate a person in a matter of seconds. The book of Proverbs encourages us to tame our tongues, and here are a couple of pointers/thoughts on the matter.
1. Wait 10 seconds before speaking, tweeting, posting, texting, pinning, whatever.
It's amazing how 10 short seconds can mean a world of difference. You see that post, or hear that sound bite, and immediately you're furious or cynical, or a plethora of other emotions. You jot down that quick rebuttal/comment and send it off before even realize what you've said, or even how you've said it. Often enough you wind up looking foolish or make the other person equally furious, which only makes things worse. I realize that 10 seconds is an eternity these days in the realm of instant gratification and data, but you'll be happy you had a second to breathe and compose your thoughts. You might not even have to even respond after that.
2. Remember that other person is a unique and precious soul too.
Too often when we are in our discussion, especially our online ones, we tend to treat the other person as if they're just a bunch of bits, or a photo on a random page, or something even more distant. But we're not. We're all precious and unique souls, more than just machines made out of meat. It doesn't help things when people talk down to you, so likewise remember who you're talking to on the other end. Even if their ideas are wrong, it's necessary to communicate the truth to them in love. If you have kids, they countlessly have wrong ideas and do we simply say "you're an idiot and evil person for thinking that" and move on? I hope not! Instead we communicate with them their errors out of the desire to help them see the truth. They are our own flesh and blood after all! We should treat others (even over the digital divide) the same.
3. You can take back what you say, but it never truly goes away.
Maybe this is the "internet archive" rule of what we say. You've probably heard by now how people can dig up old photos and documents that have been archived off the internet, no matter how far back they are. The same goes with what you've said, especially the demeaning comments. I'm still haunted by a few choice words I said to somebody a good decade ago in college. I immediately apologized and straightened things out, but there's still that emotional scar and memory. No matter how many years go by, it still flares up every now and then to remind me just how potent words are and how they are not to be used flippantly.
Hopefully this will give you pause and remind you that you hold a mighty "sword" in your words and speech. It is a great responsibility to never take them lightly and remember to show respect to everybody else.