I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with social media lately. On the one hand, I love the way that it brings people together. The ability to connect with friends and family is made so much more relevant because of the speed with which information can be spread.
I enjoy seeing what Jim, a friend I’ve known since I was a toddler, is up to in North Carolina. Or to see my cousins Mark and Scott enjoying a day of fishing together. The sense of connection I feel from viewing such posts goes beyond what any postcard could hope to offer.
On the other hand, I see so much disinformation on social media that it makes my heart cry sometimes. Lies, half-truths, and even personal insults hurled on social media with such ease. It is as though all filters of truth and civility have suddenly vanished.
Making things worse, I’ve been guilty of several such uncivil exchanges. My own filters, tact, kindness, love, etc. all seem easy to leave behind once I log onto social media. It’s almost like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario. I so easily become someone I do not like when my fingers hit the keyboard.
Recognizing this fault, I’ve made a commitment to myself to avoid such online debates. It’s been my experience that they only cause harm. They simply serve my character defects such as ego and pride. There is no value to them at all.
Keeping this commitment to myself is not easy. I’ll read someone’s post and feel the hairs on the back of my neck begin to bristle. My mind begins laying the groundwork for a verbal assault. I know just the right words to counter the B.S. I’ve just read…
Then the voice of reason kicks in. “Don’t do it Kent”. When I first decided to avoid these online battles, it was hard to hear that voice. However, over time, it has become louder and more convincing. Dr. Jekyll has begun to take control back from Mr. Hyde.
So, today instead of getting into online spats, I simply “unfollow” people. It is so easy to ignore ignorance. I can live a happy life knowing that my online experience becomes less anxious with each “unfollow”. Why, after all, would I want unhappy, ignorant, spiteful, or misinformed people in my life?
Furthermore, why on earth would I want to engage in unhappy, ignorant, spiteful, or misinformed arguments. There is nothing to be gained. Nothing positive or redeeming that is. Nothing that makes Kent a better person. Nothing spiritual about it.
This kind of discernment is something I am gaining as a benefit of recovery. It doesn’t apply only to social media either. The real life application of such discernment has become a vital part of my recovery program.
The first and most obvious application came early in my recovery when I became convinced that I needed to cut all ties with the people with whom I had used drugs. I fought this notion for a good little while. Like those online battles, it was too tempting to “just go back and check on how she’s doing.” Talk about trying to justify a bad, harmful, and hurtful choice.
(Convincing me to cut these ties was one of the best gifts Amanda has ever given me. She persisted, knowing that if I failed to break those ties, not only would our relationship fail, but so would my hopes for recovery.)
In time, this decision became solidified in my mind. There was no going back. No checking in on someone from my using days. No more rationalization.
Also to be avoided are places that pose a threat. For instance, you will not catch me alone in a Walmart after dark. Sorry Sam Walton, but your stores have become a favorite hangout for using addicts after dark in Tulsa.
I used to think these things meant I was weak. That some day I’d be able to handle them.
Today I realize that I am weak! Weak when I place myself in bad situations at least. Weak when I let my guard down. Weak when the voice of my disease tells me it will be ok, “Just this once.”
So, today I choose to be honest with myself and others when temptation comes calling. I admit that going there or doing that is just simply wrong. Like those opportunities to engage in online arguments, I just walk away. No drama. No fanfare. I simply walk away… fast!
Today I am ok admitting that there are things I just cannot do. I’m ok with the realization that the motto “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” doesn’t apply to my addiction. Instead, I can grow stronger by avoiding those little things that I don’t believe would kill me. Those things that would put Mr. Hyde back in charge.
Have a remarkable day!