In the lead up to writing this blog, my family and I travelled to the beach over a long weekend, along with half the population of the state (or so it seemed). Upon arrival, we diligently searched for that elusive ‘unicorn’ car park close to the sand and surf. Then, as if the heavens had opened and a trumpet sounded, a premium park emerged. (At that moment I finally knew how Moses felt when the Red Sea parted.)
As I indicated to turn in across the lane, without warning, a late model Honda Civic (the irony was not lost on me that our church is called Civic), sporting a ‘P’ plate, heading in the opposite direction, cut in front of me and robbed me of my car parking glory. It was in that moment I had a choice: Be outraged, be triggered, or determine whether this was worth fighting for.
If you’ve got a spare five minutes or hours and you want to gain an insight into the complexity of humanity, then take a stroll and roam through the comments section of popular social media posts.
Chances are you may feel like Alice in Wonderland, or Neo from the Matrix being sucked into a world that you don’t want to be a part of. Within a few clicks, you can find yourself in the murky depths of trolls and triggered people getting high on hate speech.
For those who may be unfamiliar with the term ‘triggered’, here’s a quick summary:
To be triggered is said to be: getting filled with hate after seeing, hearing or experiencing something you can’t stand.
Social media platforms have given us all an instant outlet to release the fury, and as humans, we don’t miss when we choose to spit our venom! We seem to be angrier than ever, and the smallest of things seem to set off a volatile volcano of rage or trigger an emotional exertion of frustration, disappointment and disgust!
Judgement can be swift and unforgiving if something is posted that doesn’t fit with our social construct. Words like, ‘Boycott!’ and ‘Never Again!’, are all too common.
What’s the end game?
What is the end game with this epidemic of emotions? I fear we will lose our ability to have constructive arguments, discussions and debates. If I am always outraged and offended about someone with a viewpoint that differs from mine, I’ll never actively engage in seeking to understand them as a person. And the distance that I keep from them will always distort how I view them.
Not only that, but being triggered taxes us emotionally, mentally and even sometimes physically (after you’ve poured your heart and soul into that comment about ridiculous prices, you often need a lie down). Take a moment and think… what if we spend all this time and energy fighting the wrong fights? That when the right fights arrive, are we too exhausted or too passive that we don’t care? Passion that is misdirected is a huge waste of time.
I may never buy a Honda Civic as a result of that encounter, but I chose to let it go and enjoy my day at the beach!
Understand that not every fight is yours to fight.
The words of Paul in Colossians 4:6 is some of the best advice you could ever get when it comes to social media comments and responding when triggered. He says- ‘Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.’