There’s been so much ick going on in the world lately. SO MUCH. And it has sent many into a tailspin. Understandably. We’re hearing about terror, wars, bombings, shootings, torture. Even when we try and block our ears to it all, there it is, the muffled noise you can make out between your clamped fingers. Throw in our advanced technological age and social media and it’s a recipe for madness.
Recently, opinions and ideas have been flung around by public figures that have divided us, left us angry and questioning humanity. From building walls, to blocking immigration, to shipping people away.
In turn, people have retaliated; hurling abuse, threats, anger and hatred right back at said public figures. Again, understandably. But, does it actually achieve what we want it to achieve?
All it does is make the instigator jump on the defensive. And further consolidate those ignorant messages. Then people become more aggressive and hateful. And before you know it we’ve entered a nasty dance. A dance that we never wanted to be a part of in the first place.
Sonia Kruger’s comments a few weeks ago really hit a raw spot for many. And then Waleed Aly’s response dug into that raw spot just a little bit more. Was she right? Was he right? Do we just show compassion to those who are ignorant? Is it ok to spread discriminatory messages when one is scared? Can we rise above it all and come together?
We all have a view on this. Which is awesome. Because we can. Freedom of speech and all that. But you know, I like to reflect back on the ancient proverb that floats around on the interwebs:
Opinions are like arseholes. We all have one, but we don’t all need to see it.
With our digital age, comes instant gratification in all forms. And now we seem to add our two cents to that list. We hear/see something we don’t like? We react. Immediately. BECAUSE IF I DON’T GET MY MESSAGE OUT AND HEARD RIGHT NOW THEN NOBODY WIILL KNOW. But sometimes when we’re in the heat of the moment, we can get a bit knee-jerky. And knee-jerky is ok! We’re allowed to be jerky. But does it need to be in such a public sphere right from the get go?
So you know what the world needs now? Aside from love, sweet love?
For us to all shut the fuck up for a second.
Just a second. Stop. Breathe. Think. Compose ourselves. We can actually all get along, and we can actually make this work, and we can stop the fear and hate if we just stop for a second and think things through. Pouncing on someone immediately normally doesn’t end well, because we’re reacting, instead of acting in ours, and others best interests.
What Sonia (and sadly many others before her…) said was incredibly hurtful and narrow minded. I don’t think anyone is disputing that. But responding with hateful and violent messages doesn’t make the situation any better. There’s ways to get our point across, and we want our point to be heard. When we throw taunts and hurl abuse, our point will be lost. And damn it, we had a good point!
In relationship counselling, there’s a little technique known as the ‘speaker listener’ technique. It’s a bit wanky, but does the trick. What happens often in conflict is that one person says something, the other person interprets their words in a way that upsets them, and then they throw it back at the person. Said person then feels affronted and BAM! Hello full blown conflict.
So what do we do instead? We stop. We listen. And then we check with the person, “this is what I heard from you. Is that what you meant?” We tell them what we heard, and we give them a chance to either confirm that’s what they meant, or they explain what was actually intended. Because we’re a fickle bunch, and we have all these feelings and stuff. And while they’re lovely, they can really fuck up our processing sometimes. It’s just putting a little extra step in our communication patterns- so that we actually know what we’re hearing, and the other person knows what they’re putting down is what’s being picked up.
The other thing? I messages. When we hear stuff we don’t like, we go charging in with the “YOU are” or “YOU did”. When someone comes barrelling at you with negative ‘you’ statements, what’s your initial reaction? Defensiveness. Yup. If we come instead with an ‘I’ message- suddenly we get heard a hell of a lot better. “I feel deeply offended by what was said. I can see that you’re scared, so am I. But I don’t think shutting others out or putting down another race is going to help us. This is the time we need to come together and move forward as a whole”.
So if we can all just shut the fuck up for a minute (could I say that more eloquently? Probably. Do I want to? Nope), and breathe, think things through and then make our move, we could save a lot of shit.
What do you think? Could you do with a bit more STFU in your world?