Thursday, June 1, 2017

keeping silence on the internet

St Ambrose talks to us about keeping silent today in A Year with the Church Fathers.

He says that we should simply remain silent if someone is abusive to us or if they attack us verbally. This is pretty good advice in the year 2017.

We're all really connected today. I mean, there are some who haven't joined the connection, but they're probably not reading this. So YOU, dear reader, are one of the connected. And being so close to other people all of the time, in the small world that technology is making smaller every day, causes us to reexamine our rules of civility, etiquette, and even morals when it comes to communication.

In years past, if there was someone you didn't care for especially, you could simply avoid them. But today, you're probably forced to interact with them from time to time, unless you can block them in the virtual world. And that's hard to do.

So how do we respond to people online? I've found, to my surprise, that when I treat people with respect and maintain their dignity when I reply to them, even if I strongly disagree with them, things usually end up better than I expect. There have been numerous times that I've been on the verge of blocking a stranger who is arguing with me on Facebook, when suddenly they "like" my comment and send me a friend request. It's almost a little frustrating, because sometimes it's satisfying to argue with people and win, right? But it's far better, I've noticed, to make friends and share love than to "be right" all the time.

So maybe we can take St Ambrose's advice into the modern world. Maybe we can hold our tongues (or our fingers) when people say rude things to us. Maybe we can win them over as friends even despite ourselves. Maybe we can make the world a better place, one keystroke at a time.

God, thank You for teaching us timeless truths that we can apply even in our hyperconnected digital age.