People say that we are more disconnected than ever before. We have Facebook and e-mail, so we *think* we know what is going on with others, but we actually know less. My thoughts on this are not so much that we are disconnected as we are no longer aware of the rhythms of the lives around us.
When you talk with someone face to face, you can pick up on things that you can't get over the web. When you see someone regularly, you can know when something is really going right or really going wrong. And when you have a regular interaction, you can learn the lingo of their lives and know when it is time to step in and override the objections and help out. The rest of the time, you have a choice - either say nothing at all, or have courage and wade in.
It seems as if everything is just one huge minefield. It seems like there is no way to say the right thing anymore. People have unspeakable hardships happen to them, and when you go to comfort, you learn later that what you said was hurtful. I read a lot of posts on what not to say to Moms whose kids have disabilities, families with cancer, kids who are adopted, people who are getting a divorce, people who are getting married, people who are getting remarried for the third time to their second spouse. Oh, it just goes on and on.
While it is frustrating to not know what to say, it is frustrating also to feel hurt when someone else did not know what to say to you. A well meaning comment can make me rage at times, but it is a silent rage because there is no context and no time for them to understand why it hurt me so. I know they don't know what they said was wrong. But that doesn't stop me from feeling any less hurt, just like the people I inadvertently hurt. Hurt is real hurt.
But I am just wondering why. When did we all get so prickly? Why is it more fun to rage than understand that the other person is trying to connect in an imperfect world of connection? Is this the way the human race is going to end - in a spout of flaming and outrage? Do we really think that people are fundamentally mean?
Oh, I don't know why I am writing all this.
Okay, actually I do - I am currently "biting my tongue" on Facebook to a friend who posted for help with her kids this week. Like it was a huge shock that they were going to be out of school and she didn't know that until yesterday. <-- See the snarkiness? So mean. And the only reason I am feeling mean is because of something she said the other day that was well meaning about H. It just happened to come in at the wrong moment.
I am so very prickly. Why am I so prickly? And why is that kind of reaction (not so) subtly encouraged by others? It is so much more entertaining to be outraged and to watch outrage. Outrage is humorous and laughter is good. But meanness is something else altogether.
And we return to our regularly scheduled lives. A little more wary. Because there are minefields everywhere and it takes courage to speak anymore. But, and I believe this fully, we need to speak. And we need to believe that when others speak, it is from a place of goodness. Even when it hurts. Even when it isn't.