If it could be quantified, it would be staggering how much constructive energy and time gets wasted every day that could actually do some good if channeled to more important outlets. Often on social media, people have a quick reaction to a post they read. Without a lot of reflection, they type their thought and move on, leaving it to lay there, permanently prodding other readers to post their own reactionary thoughts.
Ever try reading the comments after a story on any news media website? The old adage, think before you speak, should be posted at the beginning of every online conversation place.
Going a step further, it seems to me if we have something important to say, we should choose our forums wisely and try to make a bigger contribution. In the big picture of moving society forward by sharing ideas, it seems like a waste to spend all that typing time on a comment to a post on a Facebook page that so few people even take notice of. There are bigger places to have important conversations. But, we’re all busy, we’re all inundated with information, and we’ve all succumbed to the need to just spew and move on. I did that again this week.
Someone posted a mildly provocative comment to a post of mine that was mildly provocative to start with. His comment was full of inaccuracies about the vocabulary of land use planning and Tulsa’s process of developing small area plans. He seemed defensive in his indictment, which I took to mean he didn’t understand and felt left out. I thought maybe if I could give him some more accurate information, he might move toward a more constructive position. Then his conspiracy thinking began to show. Given the smallness of the forum and the challenge of remaining civil and finding credible thoughts hidden under the tin foil hat, I decided to get out before losing any more time there.
I don’t know if what I gave him helped and it was probably arrogant of me to take him to school anyway. I guess it’s still true that, with everything there is to do, making our best contributions to bigger conversations means choosing where we engage. The hour of typing to say something to a tiny group where hardly anyone is listening was an hour I could have spent more effectively, but now it’s gone.