What You Say and Do When Anonymous

The Mark of Who You Are: What You Say and Do When Anonymous

Have you had the occasion to read the comments of readers on various news web sites? I’m a regular reader and sometimes contributor to the Houston Chronicle site (www.chron.com). I must admit, however, I have been seriously considering staying out of the comments sections. I’m in absolute amazement what is often put there as comments.

Here are a few things I’ve gathered from comments by people.

1. There is little belief in “innocent until proven guilty.” A news report talks about what someone is purported to say and do and those commenting are ready to convict.

2. Many commenting believe people should immediately be killed for something they are accused of. It doesn’t matter if someone that person is alleged to have murdered someone or stolen from someone.

3. There is an aversion to the facts. One person will post a link to a particular fact and others will say “thumbs down.” I don’t know if the “thumbs down” folks are saying they doubt the fact or if they disagree with it. Facts are facts. How people use them is another matter entirely.

4. Most people use generalizations: “all liberals,” “all conservatives,” etc.

5. There are many “shoot from the hip” responses. These appear to have little thought given to what is written.

6. Many people comment without reading the entire story. Now, I must admit, this may not be true. Sometimes more facts are added later in the day but the comments to the original story remain. It appears someone is commenting on one story when, in fact, they were commenting on an earlier story with less detail.

7. Many people show little desire or ability to examine a situation from various perspectives. By this I mean, many have difficulty in “walking in another’s shoes.” This usually happens when there is a tragic accident such as a mother backing over her child and killing her little one. Certain individuals immediately blame the mother without realizing, “There but the grace of God go I.” Mom is already blaming herself and will do so the rest of her life.

8. There are a lot of really mean people out there. These folks don’t care who they hurt by their words.

9. There is a stark division of beliefs with a great deal of black and white thinking. Many believe you are either conservative or liberal. These folks would probably be befuddled by someone like myself who has some beliefs which are considered liberal and others considered conservative.

10. There are a number of people who appear to believe that if you don’t agree with them then you don’t deserve anything but bad things.

11. A number of people believe that a cogent argument consists of name calling.

I could write more, but these are the major things I notice. Sometimes I attempt to respond to the comments with something rationale. There are other times, much to my chagrin, when I am tempted to respond in a hostile way that I would not respond if we were talking face to face.

Anonymity often brings out the baser qualities in humans.

I read an interview with a man who talked about his comments to news stories. He said he has been banned by the Houston Chronicle for his opinions. He would not allow his name to be published because he says things on-line he’d never say publicly. He said he might be fired for his comments.

I wonder why we humans do this. Do we hold so much anger within us that, in situations where no one knows who we are, we vomit it out upon everyone? Is there something about the power of words to hurt that we enjoy that power without realizing what effect it has on others?

I don’t have the answers. It would be a fascinating research study into human nature. Perhaps it’s all about power. I just don’t know.

I have learned that I, also, have the tendency to write things I would ordinarily not say. I haven’t been happy with that revelation about myself. I work to examine my thoughts and how I express them since I’ve become aware of that side of me.

I want to be an instrument for good rather than ill. Sometimes my human frailties interfere with that desire. I have to catch myself. When I do, I realize my reactions are due to my own wounds. I discover an area in need of healing and then use the tools I have to heal that area.

From the comments on various on-line sites, I would hazard to guess we are all in need of deep healing.

Measuring the Success of Your Life

[one_half]You may have heard of the tongue in cheek expression, “The one who dies with the

Measuring the Success of Your Life most toys wins.” In bumper sticker wisdom, this is one way of measuring success. The implication is that life is about the accumulation of things. Of course, that is not true for most people. Life is much more than spending your time gathering things.

How will you determine if you are successful? If you are in your twenties while reading this, you are just beginning your life and discovering what it is you want. Those in the midst of intense study for a field such as medicine, law or other doctoral degree have no time to read short articles such as this. Only those who are looking for ways to move themselves forward, to find a way to achieve, would have the time and inclination to read this article.

Take ten minutes right now and reflect upon this question. If you died today, what can you look back on as achievements? Some people would list their education, projects accomplished, things they’ve accumulated. Others would talk about the people in their lives including their family and the number of friends they have. Still others, probably much fewer, would point to their relationship to their Higher Power and their spirituality. Be sure and do a quick list of your achievements before you read the next paragraph.

Now for the next question that you have probably heard many times. If you only have six months to live, what would you do? The purpose of this question is to assist you in discovering what is really important in your life. The problem with the time limit of this particular question is that every one of us would probably choose to  do something much different if we were told we had six months to live than if we were told we had ten years to live. The time constraint of six months [/one_half] [one_half_last]doesn’t require much long-term planning. For instance, you can run up your credit cards  to do whatever you want without having to worry about paying them back.

Did you answer the six months to live question?

Now answer the same question but with a ten year time limit. Let’s make it a little different. Let’s say you’ve been told you have ten years to achieve something significant with your life, but aren’t told the definition of significant. If you’ve accomplished this in ten years, you are granted another ten years. If you haven’t done something of significance at the end of that time period then your life is over. Once a year you’d receive a note in the mail reminding you of the progress of time, but not telling you if you’ve achieved significance or not. You have to decide that for yourself. Now what would you do? Take a few minutes to jot down a few things.

Your mind will answer the questions you ask it. That means your answers depend upon the way you ask your questions. The questions above are general in nature. You will receive different answers if you change the focus. For instance, answer this, “If you only had six months to make enough money to support yourself and three other people for a year, what would you do?” Did the answer change from the general “six months to live” question?

Play with the phrasing of the questions. Insert words such as “show someone you love them” or “build a new house.” How would your answers change? Here’s a scary one. “If you knew that a particular loved one only had six months to live, and there was nothing you could do to change that, what would you do?”

Questions which include time limits force our subconscious minds to respond in a certain direction. Play with your questions regarding success and discover what is important to you.   [/one_half_last]