I’ve been surprised and a little troubled at the string of hurt feelings, specious misunderstandings, and unintentionally bruised egos I’ve seen lately because of things posted on various social media . . . particularly Facebook. Especially this time of year.
An alternative title to this post was; “It’s All Fun & Games Until It Gets Personal”.
Another one was; “I’m Beginning to Loathe Facebook”.
I’m the guy who not long ago announced on his own FB page:
“One of the unfortunate limits of the written word is that it can never adequately portray the appropriate depth of sarcasm necessary for certain times . . . now, of course, being one of those times.”
You know, I get that the printed word doesn’t do much but lay there; waiting merely to be picked up, examined like some archeological specimen, to be interpreted through the often well-intentioned yet ill-informed lens of the particular examiner. Like a piece of bone lacking the flesh and musculature that gives you the full image of the original species, the printed word lacks the subtle nuance that any type of spoken inflection can add—be it sarcasm, tenderness, empathy, humor, desperation, anger, or guilt.
Whatever I write, I tend to read back exactly as I intend it to sound. That doesn’t mean you will; no matter how I italicize, capitalize or dramatize with color. There’s been my fair share of situations, be it through misunderstandings, misguided intentions, or short-sighted emotions–whether I was involved in the original commentary or not–where I’ve felt the desire to step in; trying in my own often misguided, misunderstood, overly emotional way, to salvage friendships (or ‘friend’ships), mend misunderstandings, or try to round up fiery reactions like so many herd of cats.
Then . . . it happened to me.
I was honestly surprised by my reaction.
It was merely a Facebook post of one of the myriad pre-made, widely circulated, poster-board-type-things from one of those “I Just Make Stuff Up to Piss People Off” websites, having to do with Creationists.
It wasn’t flattering.
I mean, I’ve seen these things before. I’ve seen plenty of acid-tipped, sarcastic barbs traded back and forth–between believers and atheists for instance. I usually tend to shrug these off, or shake my head feeling either melancholy (Ma-LON-ca-lee, as Megamind puts it) or mild distaste. But somehow this one was different. This one was from someone I knew. Personally. For years. And it was a sarcastic jibe—humorous though it was disguised to be—on Creationists.
On . . . me.
And, it hurt.
And, I wasn’t sure what to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to play on any sympathy card here. I’m not crying, “poor me!” I’m not going to take my little faith ball and go home. I’m really just surprised at how personally I took it. I mean, this was someone I’d laughed with, joked with, talked at length with: Not specifically about religion, or politics, or social issues, although I knew they didn’t believe in the claims of Christ, nor held to any particular religion.
But I didn’t know they felt like . . . .that.
I wasn’t exactly sure how I should respond. IF I should respond. I certainly didn’t want to offend them.
Isn’t that funny? That right there was the rub. That was the crux of what I was conflicted with.
Here was the perfect opportunity to answer, to clear the air of a misunderstanding, possibly to ask a question or two of my own, or to at least stick up for my personal beliefs and my faith in God . . .
Yet I was worried about how they might take it. After all, if this is truly what they believed, how they felt; if I answered them at all, regardless of the tone or content, they might not like me anymore. They might take offense themselves. They might run off to some of my other ex-coworkers and talk smack about me. Worse . . . they might ‘unfriend’ me
Why does that possible reaction bother me so much? I mean, we’re talking about faith here. GOD stuff. Eternal stuff. “Go forth, sharing the good news, making disciples of all the nations . . .” stuff.
Still, I hesitate. Pick at the scab a little bit knowing that eventually it will fade anyway, whether I do something about it or not.
What’s funny to me as well is that I certainly didn’t consider the possibility that they might understand my reaction; regardless of whether I held any influence on their beliefs or not. That never crossed my mind until I sat down here. I was more worried that they would react like . . . I don’t know . . . like I did.
Hmmmm. Guess I’ve got some growing to do: Got some skin thickening to work on. Here I thought I was firm in my faith, comfortable in my beliefs and comfortable in other people having theirs.
Then it went and got personal.
Just a couple of friends playin’ with sharp sticks, and it’s all fun and games until someone gets their eye poked out.