I can’t tell you how many times I have sworn off reading internet article comments. They’re caustic, angry, and unhappy, and they add nothing positive to my life. But somehow, I keep going back. My own little dark vice, I suppose.
Recently I read some comments (these happened to be on Facebook) that came across as narrow-minded and willfully ignorant at best, bigoted at worst. I found myself wanting to jump in and, with my very best voice of righteous indignation say, “WTF? Seriously? Let me tell you just how stupid that is.”
Thankfully, I asked myself, “Is that really the energy I want to put out there? Is that really how I want to show up? The answer was no. Instead, I shared some objective facts and left it at that.
With that fresh in my mind, this morning I ran across something Marianne Williamson posted on her Facebook page:
“You are completely at choice who you will be today in your interactions with others. Compassionate, kind, giving and forgiving will create one set of probabilities; angry, judgmental, critical and defensive will create another one altogether.”
I completely agree with that. But the challenge is that it doesn’t always feel like a choice. Sometimes it seems like the latter set of qualities are dangling me like a marionette, jerking me around.
But that doesn’t mean the choice isn’t there. It simply means that my choice muscle could still use a bit more exercise. And that’s where internet comments come in.
Take your mind to the internet comments gym
It can be challenging to remember to choose compassion and kindness when those less-than-desirable characteristics rear their heads in real life – especially when you’re face to face with someone who (thinks yer less-enlightened self) deserves a heapin’ helpin’ o’ whoopass. Up comes the judgment and criticism, you unload a pile of vitriol on them – and let’s face it, it feels goooood – and THEN you go, “Crap! I completely forgot to choose to be compassionate and loving.”
It can be helpful to train your brain in a situation where it’s not quite as tempting to get sucked all the way down the rabbit hole.
For me, reading comments is a little like going to the gym for that ability to choose those higher-self options. The comments can still kick up those unsavory aspects, but there seems to be more space to step back and ask, “Is this response really who I want to be? Is this really how I want to engage the world?”
The more I exercise that choice muscle, the easier it becomes to flex it in real life as well.
So while I wouldn’t inflict a life condemned to reading internet comments on my worst enemy, with the right approach they can actually do a little good in the world.
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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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