I've been saying it for years and it's never been more true. We are now able to connect to people around the world, but we have never been LESS connected to each other! It seems life on the internet is all about ME. Social graces like listening, connecting, and supporting are rare. The more commonplace posts are bold, condescending, and inwardly focused. Here are a few of the ways in which this plays out online:
1. Buy My Stuff Barbara: Barbara PMs Facebook friends she never talks to in order to get them to join her network marketing business or buy her latest product. She takes the time to explain all about her stuff, but has no response to personal details when I reply. She ignores my comments about how I just had surgery, how my uncle was just diagnosed with cancer, or that a family member is currently in the hospital and simply replies, "Thanks for responding."
It's not bad to reach out to see if others might be interested in something you sell. It's just bad form to do so out of the blue and then NEVER respond on a human level to what they just shared with you. It is bound to make them feel you are only in this social networking relationship for the money.
2. Here's Your Solution Hallie: I've seen people post about a problem only to have others post their solution without even considering what was just said in the original post. Hallie has tunnel vision. She sees a post that has something to do with a product she likes or a solution she believes in and BAM. She posts her response!
Allergic to that cure? Tried it already? Didn't work? Don't believe in it? Don't want to? Doesn't matter to Hallie. Just because a cure worked for Aunt Millie's second cousin's friend's neighbor, doesn't mean it's right for everyone. Everyone's body is different and each person has their own ideas and issues. What is usually required and needed when someone posts about a financial devastation or health issue is compassion. Prayer might be nice to offer as well.
3. I've Got My Agenda Ida: I've noticed replies to posts that had nothing whatever to do with the topic which were stated only in order to segue into Ida's agenda. It's not nice to hijack someone else's post and take it into a new direction, especially when you know that it isn't an ideology THEY share. Mary is a public school teacher with her kids in public school. She posted a struggle she's having with her son. She's looking for support not to quit her job and homeschool her three kids. Ida's agenda might not be bad or wrong, but it's isn't polite to jump in and tear Mary's world apart just because you think you see a need.
This was posted on HER Facebook wall. If Ida wants to share HER ideas, she can post them on HER wall.
4. I'll Find Offense Irma: Humor post? No, let's take offense to further the political agenda. I'm a goofball and I love to make people laugh. Life is tough enough; what the world needs now is FUN...a diversion from the day to day difficulties that infest our lives. But I can't tell you how many times I've posted something fun (even when it's poking fun at MYSELF), when someone feels the need to take offense at something you could only infer if you were looking at it behind dark glasses as you stood upside down on a cactus with a flame thrower underneath.
Sometimes, Irma, a joke is just a joke and it's okay to laugh at it. And if you don't find it funny, it is possible to just scroll on past it.
5. The Conversation Correction Patrol: When someone makes a spelling or grammar mistake, a typo, inadvertently uses Auto INcorrect, or has the audacity to post their political beliefs on their own Facebook wall, it has become commonplace to...BLAST 'em! A small grammar or spelling mistake usually doesn't befuddle the reader enough to make the writer's point unintelligible. So, unless you can't figure out what the post means, just let it go and respond to the spirit of the post.
It's perfectly acceptable to disagree with someone politically, but it doesn't give you the right to be mean spirited in response. Gently respond by sharing your ideas or facts without insinuating (or coming right out and stating) that the person on the other side of the aisle is an IDIOT. It is possible to disagree in grace.
6. One last point: It is actually not possible to further your agenda without connecting on a human or personal level. It just doesn't work. I've seen thousands of political rants, conversational debates, and even formal meetings to "discuss" opposing beliefs and they have almost NEVER resulted in either side changing their opinion. Why? People don't care what you know or have to offer unless they know you care about them as a person..until you connect with them on a personal level.
It's sad how the social graces aren't practiced anymore as we have transitioned to spending so much time online. This is NOT how God intended for us to communicate with one another. Check out my study, 21 Days to More Godly Communication to see how the Lord intends for us to communicate with one another in grace. Scroll down to view the sample lesson. The entire study is only $7 this week, but hurry because this Friday we will remove three more studies from our Sizzling Summer Sale page!