In Pursuit of the Greater Good

In Pursuit of the Greater Good

How to manage your emotional responses on social media in 5 not-so-easy steps.

Lately I’ve noticed how easily I become distressed by the volatility in our social media posts. What starts as sincere conviction about a topic quickly digresses into personal insults or worse. Our humanity is both cause and effect for the way our conversations devolve into something unproductive. And we have tools to manage ourselves so we don’t get dragged into the fray of destructive arguments.

I cannot and will not say I’ve solved the problem, but I have discovered some things to keep myself involved in social media and away from feeling bad about doing so. It took me some time to find the right combination for me, so I share it here in the hopes of inspiring you to find the combination that works for you.

  • Enter consciously - I seldom log onto a social media site without first reminding myself that I’m entering a danger zone, of sorts. I enter with my closely-held beliefs and opinions and am among people with like and differing closely-held beliefs and opinions. I assume good intent on the part of others, as I do for myself.
  • Read to learn - Much like listening in a conversation, I use my listening skills in reading what’s on the screen. I don’t have to do anything except take in information. I let my brain process what I read without writing anything initially. When I am convicted to engage, I do what’s next.
  • Respond, don’t react - First, a disclaimer. Social media posts cannot convey tone or sincerity the same way conversation does. That said, I’ve already let my brain react to what I read, so now I take the time to distill the reactions into a response. If I have a differing opinion, I build empathy with the friend by saying something supportive. Then, I offer my view with clear, concise wording.
  • Don’t talk to strangers - I’ve failed at this one more times than I care to admit. What I can do to keep myself away from this trap is simply not respond. I can reinforce my opinion by liking, thanking, or applauding the contributions of others who share my point of view. When I engage with people I don’t actually know, I first ask if I can share my differing perspective. If they respond, I do my best to express empathy and then share my ideas. I avoid baiting, confrontational language, and personal attacks. I remind myself that this is an optional and difficult way of engaging.
  • Do something out of appreciation or love - I saved this for last because it’s my no-longer-secret way out. When I’ve reached my limit, I walk away from the LED screen and engage with others. Maybe it’s a visit with a friend who is ill or a hand-written note to someone to acknowledge a good deed. Maybe it’s a phone call with someone in my family or making dinner for my husband. Maybe I sit down on the floor to play with our dogs. My prime directive is to return to a state of gratitude and service.

One closing thought: give yourself a beacon. There is power in a physical object that reminds you to return to your higher self. I have a small compass on my desk that compels me return to my course of being a better human. I hope it works for you!

Living in the world of technology means we are constantly bombarded with information. It gives us a way to learn about each other, but requires of us, as I see it, some responsibility to take what we learn to serve the greater good.

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is Principal Coach and Consultant at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

This article was originally published at The Mission Coach Blog. Reprinted with permission from the author.