Years ago, far wiser generations advised their families to avoid topics of religion and politics in conversations with their friends. Their desire was not to mold their progeny into becoming sticks in the mud; it was to help them understand that the value of one’s friendship meant far more than fueling the obsession of being correct–especially concerning topics that few could argue with firsthand expertise.
This is important advice to consider if you wish to keep your friends in today’s world. Individuals who consider themselves ladies or gentlemen do not reveal all online. It is impolite, it is without consideration, and it shows weakness. It takes no strength to lose one’s temper and to throw a tantrum; real strength is in one’s restraint. Remember, social networking platforms are public platforms. I would be willing to bet that most of what people post, if they have any decency, is not something that they would be willing to read to all of their online friends in person, while gathered in one room and standing on their soapbox. This is Computer Courage and many people forget that their comments may have damaging effects. Not only that, every post online remains there indefinitely. This means that if you choose to delete your post, it is merely hidden from your view. Your emotional and egotistical choices serve as indelible marks on the net. Even so, they are not quite as destructive online as they are to your friendships. Just like privacy and our Constitutional rights, when we are held in high esteem by others, this is something we should honor and protect as though few other things matter. ‘Cause once it’s gone, it ain’t nevah comin’ back!
Every time there is an uproar in the media, most people take their emotions to social media. Where is their sense of dignity? They are not going to change the world by venting to a few friends; they are more likely to lose the admiration of the few friends they currently have. As we delve deeper into our terminal vanity and arrogance, and set miserable examples for our children, I am saddened to admit that I admire many of my online friends far less than I previously believed. I find many of their posts to be argumentative, hateful, judgmental, and arrogant, and they make the social networking environment a much less enjoyable place to spend any time.
We all feel emotions and we all have strong urges to speak out. We feel better once we vent our feelings, but we are far stronger when we curtail our emotional urges. This also applies to posts that involve personal drama. Remember the old adage, “A hedge between keeps friendships green.” Airing your dirty laundry shows a lack of strength and ability to restrain yourself. It points out your character flaws because it shows that you are not above treating others with disrespect and disdain. It shows weakness because you are experiencing an emotion and cannot help whining about it. It shows that your emotions are in control of your actions, and that is an extremely dangerous vulnerability that you must correct immediately because there is no shortage of people in this world who are primed and ready to take advantage of that weakness.
The Internet has connected us with nearly every person with whom we have ever exchanged words. With technology, we are more closely interacting than ever before and yet there has never been a larger gap in human connectedness. We put the very least amount of interest and value on our friendships today. We will sacrifice every one of our friendships for the opportunity to annihilate our friends with our soapboxes.
Real ladies and gentlemen buy journals or go to the gym for temper tantrums and create a blogs for a wider range of influence. No matter how angry they become, individuals who have been groomed with proper etiquette do not engage in insulting and demeaning behavior online.
Lastly, people really do not need to be bothered by your controversial opinions. For one reason, respect rarely is invited to those conversations. Controversial debates almost always become a showdown and at least one participant becomes critically injured. Engaging in such efforts is useless because it ultimately settles nothing. No one changes his or her viewpoint because he or she is beaten into the ground while losing the argument. For another reason, your opinion regarding controversial matters is no one else’s business, just as others’ opinions of you are none of yours.
Extend to your friends the proper example of respect, personal dignity, and restraint, and you will save yourself a few friendships while preserving some element of class.
Danica De La Mora
Please stay tuned for my upcoming book!