So, What’s REALLY Going On?
7 October 2021 Hits:1217
My intention in writing this blog is to point out something that I hope will be helpful to us all in recognising potential unhealthy behaviour and adjusting our lives accordingly. Also, that we would all would continue moving in grace and compassion with those we encounter.
Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that when someone begins communicating in an edgy, argumentative way, there is ALWAYS something going wrong in their life. It could be a loss of a job, health, a marriage, or a ministry.
I always reach out privately to such people. Sometimes I get a response. Rarely does it change anything. So, I’ll repeat, every time someone is edgy, argumentative, or aggressive in the way they speak or interact on social media, something is going on in their own life that is causing frustration.
So, What’s Really Going On?
A helpful article published by the University of Montreal on conspiracy theories sheds some valuable insights into this phenomenon.
In summary, the authors address “significance loss” and how a person behaves to satisfy this need. The article speaks to why people embrace conspiracy theories to recover significance. The dopamine hit they used to get from their importance as a preacher, a husband, or their job is replaced by the audience they gain on social media. They “feel good” again because they have an audience, a platform, a voice, influence and allies. Significance has returned. Sadly, they lead others down a poisonous rabbit hole into a dark world of imaginary schemes where others are simply gullible sheep.
In all of the examples, I am aware of; the person has experienced loss: loss of ministry, relationship, job, house, or health. We all have lost something this year, especially freedom, but most people can rationalise this and not allow their behaviour to become toxic. But some, for whatever reason, do not possess this capacity. So, they attempt to recover from their loss of significance.
In psychology, projection is an understandable self-defensive mechanism. When we don’t like what is going on in life, we are tempted to project our frustrations on others. Invariably this will be somebody we love or a person in authority who we perceive should do something to help us.
While projection is understandable, it is not healthy or godly. Projecting your frustrations on others only causes angst in friendships and relationships. I have held onto some friendships “by the skin of my teeth” over the past couple of years.
Rather Than Ranting, Try Talking
Firstly, if you are a person of faith, talk to God. Allow God to be a circuit breaker for your frustrations. Confess what is vexing you to him and invite the Holy Spirit to refresh and heal your wounded soul. Make a covenant with the Lord that you will not say or write anything in the public space when you feel irritable or anxious.
I have found it very therapeutic to write an email when I’m feeling frustrated and then put it in the drafts folder for a day or two. Note: DO NOT put the person’s email address in the “To:” line just in case you send it by mistake! After a day or two, I either delete the email entirely or rewrite it in a much gentler tone. But the action of writing the email can be a tonic.
And talk to someone you know and trust. It could be a professional such as a pastor, counsellor, or psychologist, or maybe a faithful friend. Tell them what you’re going through and how you are feeling, and ask them if you can chat regularly and for them to hold you accountable.
A Final Example
I did this recently when I had watched a guy I had known for years being extremely edgy on my Facebook page. Here’s my message to him, “You and I have known each other for a long-time. I have always respected you greatly. I am concerned about the way you’re engaging online. Of course, you are totally free to post what you like on your own page, but when you’re commenting on mine, could you please keep it respectful? I’m asking, kindly, could you please use some self-control when commenting on my page? Thanks so much.”
He wrote back, “I’m sorry Rob I should not have replied to that comment, although they were laughing at my opinions, I just should not have bitten back anyway. I’m needing to change my social media approach 100%…as hard as it is to bite my tongue I simply must now. I’m sharing that with you so you can hold me accountable if you feel like I’m stepping over the mark please feel free to poke me. Bless you heaps.
That was a good outcome. But it’s rare. I encourage us all to be like that and, if we are feeling frustrated because life is tough, we need to find a healthy outlet by chatting with God and a friend. Let’s tell them what’s REALLY going on.