Saturday, April 12, 2014

Internet Communication

The voices of the internet are wide and varied. You can find someone to agree with you on just about anything.

I believe in Heaven everyone will be speaking Truth, all the time. Unfortunately we live in a fallen world, but I want to work on having perfect communication, where Truth is what I talk about and react in.

I recognize that, as person, I am not perfect. I still make snap judgments. I still make rude comments. I am selfish. This is real. If you have a real live conversation with me, there is a good chance this is what will come out of my mouth. 

On the internet, however, I believe I can and should create new rules of communication.

I can think before I speak. On the internet, it is not real time. You are not asked to give a split-second response. You have time to think before you speak, compose what you are going to say. You can stew over it, weigh it, try it on for size. This means you can have no regrets. I can speak only Truth, is I so desire. I can cut out judgments, hurtful words, and complaints. Are I not being "real"? What is real? Your real, true self is a child of God, patterned after your father. I wish I could always have perfect communication. So I don't want to immortalize my imperfections by writing them all over the internet. There is no "delete" button. What you write is forever. The words you speak can be forgotten and fade with time, but what is written out on the internet stays forever and can be reread over and over again, even if you've since changed your opinion.

Keep private communications private. So often I have opinions (and I mean opinions, not unchanging Truth) that I want to share with one person, a group of people, or everyone-in-the-world-who-thinks-like-me. In an effort to reach all of those people, it can be tempting to share my opinion with everyone, everywhere. When I imagine explaining said opinion to a person I just met, or an acquaintance I haven't seen in a long time, I think twice. I would use different words, more tact, and less judgmental details. Tact is a gift to the listener. 

Complaints and harsh words are not things I want to immortalize. Sometimes, In an effort to be "real," to tell the "whole" story, we write down our exact thoughts, and therefore solidify that what we thought was worth thinking, that how we felt should be validated, and that what we are about is pointing out the negative, even if the situation has passed. Complaining and mean statements, from my view, is one of the main forms of communicating on the internet. Because this is so prevalent, I sometimes feel the need to weigh in, to share my complaint, or put my stamp of approval on the dragging down a group of people by sharing the same article. I have learned that you don't have to engage. Your private opinions and struggles have a time and a place, and in my opinion should be reserved for verbal communication, where they cannot be reread, or a private journal, for your own personal reflection and learning. If you do feel the need to share your opinions, with the proper care you can probably share them with more tact and understanding than some article you found online (because most communication on the internet does not follow this rule), or a "brain dump" for all to read.

Recognize what you don't know. So often when I am bagging on a group of people, I don't know anyone who is actually in that group. Or the people that I suppose are in that group, I don't know well. I don't know their heart, I don't know their reasons for doing something. So really I would not be communicating to them (to their hearts) but simply about them. How does it feel to you to be communicated about but not directly to? I can tell you from experience, you feel misunderstood (because you are) and you are not likely to be helped by this type of communication (which is usually the intent of the one sharing the information). Learning happens when we understand each other on a fundamental level, and when that understanding is shown through our actions and words. They do not love that do not show their love.

Assume the best. I try to assume people are doing things for the right reasons. To assume people are motivated by love. Assume people are trying to be good. I find that more often than I think, this is true. And if it is not, love is always more motivating than the harshest, "real"-est, most biting words you can write.

Ask "What can I do?" It seems to be human nature that when we read something or hear something, we automatically think of someone else. Someone we know that needs to improve, or someone else who needs to be better. It is not usual that we first ask, "What can I do to be better?" "Where can I improve?" Although I wrote this with the intent to share my own personal rules with others, it has caused me to reflect on them. Am I living up to my personal standards? Do I have room for improvement? Certainly I do. You could call me a hypocrite and you would be right. I have broken my own rules before, and probably will in the future. But should fear of being called a hypocrite keep us from trying to improve our own communication? I don't think so. I have felt the power that comes from keeping these rules. When I decide to refrain from negative communication, I am more focused on the positive. I am less likely to believe my own situations as frustrating, and the people I am surrounded by as somehow broken. I am able to see the good and doubt the bad.

I recognize that I fall short. I recognize I have more to learn, I am not perfect. It is by recognizing our own weaknesses and showing humility that we truly learn, that we can finally reach the Truth that is embodied on our Savior. I am ever reaching.

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