Calling all talkers and joiners and conversationalists and debaters. Calling the quiet, the timid, and the introverted. Those who feel strong, loud, and proud, or shamed, fearful, isolated, and lonely. Help me form a plan.
Because of Facebook and Twitter, and I guess the internet in general, I have developed a pretty strong presence in the Twilight Zone. A state of uncertainty and caution. A place in which I know what I want to say, how I want to say it, and to whom I want to speak – but hesitate to do so.
I hesitate because civility and kindness have taken a big hit by social media.
Thanks to the www, we all have the ability to sit in a comfortable chair and spew toxic words willy-nilly at complete strangers. It doesn’t matter that we’ve never read the book or learned the facts. It doesn’t matter that we haven’t walked beside the troubled or taken the time to listen to all of their words or cared much what they thought as long as they listen to us.
Social media gives us platforms on which to speak that we haven’t earned or built. Platforms that loom large above everyone else as long as we have the loudest or most popular mic. Platforms from which anyone of us can dump whatever we want onto those who are there simply to hear the main speaker or listen to the music.
And if you want to speak honestly and without malice to the world about something for which you hold great passion, a “public” setting can open you up to a big ol’ whoopin’ of vitriol, hate, and insults. Not to mention the virtual eye roll.
Good golly, Miss Molly. Anyone – you, me, the guy with swag, the girl with an axe to grind – we can all remain safe in our little shroud of anonymity and bash someone. Anyone – a person with a heart and soul just like me – is fair game simply because they post something positive about the very thing I despise – or something negative about that which I hold dear.
So, that’s not okay, right? We hate that.
But then there’s this. Even though many of us don’t really want to show our true colors with words that are not kind or uplifting, we don’t hesitate to find someone else’s mean, hateful, and disparaging words to “share”.
Share. Wow. I mean, just WOW!
Remember when sharing was considered a good and admirable quality? We taught our children that sharing is part of friendship and world peace. We understood that sharing meant sacrifice and love and thoughtfulness.
Not convinced? Give me a time and place when you or someone you know said to a 4-year-old, “Oh, honey, don’t be selfish. You need to share those broken shards of glass with your friends.”
Let’s face it. When we “share” an article or post that reveals an ugly quality in the candidate we despise or spotlights the behavior of a highly-regarded Christian leader caught doing or saying something way less than Christian, we are just randomly spreading those big, ugly, hazardous shards far and wide, aren’t we? And we’re okay when breaking news uncovers our “truth” and those words slice someone wide open because, “It was him. He said it. Not me.”
I, for one, would much rather hear what YOU have to say about someone I don’t particularly admire or something that bothers me – or how much we share one mind about an issue I didn’t think you even cared about. Not the words of that blogger or politician or journalist. Sure, their words may be more eloquent. And maybe they are worth quoting. Maybe.
But, my lovelies, you are important to me. You and your ideas and opinions. I want to talk to you.
That said, however, we still have the issue of the internet and keyboards. We are missing the face-to-face that is crucial when those conversations take place. We still can sit in solitude, mumble or holler, nod or smirk as we read the opinions of others. But we miss out on the important conversations because we are reluctant to contribute to the chaos or risk being misunderstood … or maligned.
And we still have that pesky distance thing to overcome. Darn it.
So this is my plan. I’m going to create a closed Facebook page for us. A place where we can “talk” about things even though we are far apart. Things that we could talk about around the dinner table, that we hold dear, and that need discussing. Are you in?
Okay. Here are the rules:
- You may invite any one you know to join the group.
- You may introduce and discuss any topic you choose. Nothing is off-limits. You can start a thread at any time.
- Absolutely no sharing, reposting, or linking to anyone’s words but your own. None.
- …except for great music videos.
- Yes, you may copy and paste/quote words from others (like 1-3 sentences, tops) that contribute to your ideas, but those “shared” ideas may not be the sum and substance of your participation in the conversation. We need YOUR words. Let’s say a 20:1 ratio – your words:quoted words.
- Mean-spirited, insulting, or eye-roll remarks will be deleted by the Administrators.
- Notwithstanding Rule #1, Administrators can give repeat offenders the boot.
- There will be more than one Administrator. You can lobby for the position or trust me to ask 2 or 3 wise souls to keep things civil.
- The rules may change as we figure out how this will work. In other words, I’m a rookie, so be patient.
Author and speaker Shauna Neiquist says it this way:
This is how the world changes – little by little, table by table, meal by meal, hour by hour. This is how we chip away at isolation, loneliness, fear. This is how we connect, in big and small ways – we do it around the table.
So, I’m titling the group “Around our table” and I’ll invite y’all to join just as soon as I have it up and running and figure out the logistics (reread Rule #9). Stay tuned and “friend” me.
Now, get ready to use your own voice, your own words, your own ideas to make a big difference – or a small connection. It’s gonna be GREAT!