Signed, Anonymous

signed anonymous

 

Publicly sharing personal thoughts is really not earth shattering. People write commentary and opinions all day long on social media. They start petitions ( the “send Justin Bieber back to Canada” petition went viral in a matter of days,  accumulating over 100,000 signatures), submit comments, and type letters of all sorts exercising their first amendment rights.

 

We live in a vocal society who rarely holds back when it comes to speaking out. 

 

Recently I wrote my first ever Letter to the Editor. It might have just been a severe case of the winter blues, but it seemed as if I had been dealt with unjustly and it just didn’t sit right with me. A wave of civic passion swept over me and I felt compelled to share in our local paper.

 

 

As a writer, I don’t always write because I need an outcome or for something to change; I write because it is my best expression of self. I write to challenge people and make them think. I write to encourage or to share what is going on in my life.

 

I enjoy and even celebrate the individuality and diversity of both the friends and anonymous readers that may stumble across my writing. I don’t expect everyone to agree with what I write. I’m not trying to gather a cult-like following of people who think exactly how I think on every single thing I write about.

 

And I don’t typically write to stir up controversy.

 

I do assume though that the more publicly I write, the more people I will find that disagree with me, and that’s okay. I do not live in a world of sunshine and rainbows where I expect everyone to send me emojis of smiles, hearts and thumbs up each time I post something.

 

But what I do expect is to be treated like a person, a person with feelings and intelligence.

 

With the responses I received on my letter, you would have thought I asked the city to buy me a car as an apology, plow my driveway all winter long, and exempt me from paying city taxes…indefinitely.

 

People were outraged that I could be so simple minded and ignorant. I was told to “shut up and pay” “deal with it” “stop whining”  “put your big girl panties on and deal” “you act like you’re living in a cave” and that my letter was a total “waste of space.” A few comments made little sense, and are the result of what I can only assume were edited profanities.

 

Signed, anonymous.

 

Call me old-fashioned, but I was raised in a home where if I had even dreamed of speaking to a stranger in that way, I would be enjoying the confines of my bedroom until I could have a better attitude and disposition.

 

I rarely get involved in online banter, refrain from speaking to the masses about controversial topics, and believe in the power of real life conversation when feelings are on the line. Someday I may feel called to take stronger public stances, but I will do so with careful consideration of each and every word I speak. I have seen too many simple comments turn into cutting criticisms, streams of hate, and an outpouring of words that cannot be taken back.

 

Has the internet made us forget that when we type, we are still talking to human beings?

 

Has our freedom of speech and the accessibility of communication made us believe that our opinions, regardless of how emotionally charged, ugly or even unkind they may be, MUST be shared?

 

Anonymity has given us power, and unfortunately the abuse of that power is far more costly than we realize.

 

“You can have influence, or you can make a point.” – Andy Stanley

 

We have traded our influence for our need to have the last word, to get our point across, or to make sure the world knows that we are independent people with the ability to think for ourselves.

 

And the destruction we leave behind feels unnoticed and unattached to us, because hey, we’re anonymous.

 

 

I am the first to admit that I can sometimes sprinkle everything with a little too much sarcasm and speak my opinions too frequently. I’m sure during my wedding planning process {and several other season of my life where I was tunnel visioned} I lost several friends who were sick of my inability to talk about anything else.

I am not always sensitive and relateable across the board. But I do try to be.

 

 

And I’ll be honest–when I wrote that letter, I didn’t even know online comments were an option. I didn’t expect it to spark a debate; I simply wrote to inform. I wrote to express, not to offend. But unfortunately, that is not how I was spoken to in return.

 

 

 

“It is when our hearts are stirred that we become most aware of what they contain.” – Andy Stanley

 

When you feel stirred, when you feel concerned and compelled, or in complete and total disagreement with what someone else has said…how do you respond? What words do you use? How quickly do you communicate?

Do you let your thoughts sift themselves out for awhile or do you fire back as quickly as your fingers can type?

 

What do you say when you feel strongly and passionately and want others to understand? Do you speak in love, with non-threatening words, or do you slam your words in their face? Passion and beliefs and opinions are okay…it’s how they are communicated that makes all the difference in the world.

 

 

We need to be careful, not only with the words we speak but with the ones we type as well. They both matter. They both have the ability to build up or destroy, to challenge or to criticize, to encourage or to demoralize. Our words, both verbal and written, can bring peace or they can bring discord.

 

We can build up our walls, shut people out and make sure they know their thoughts, opinions, ideas and feelings are not welcome in our corner of the world. Or, we can invite them in, make the space around us welcoming, and speak kindly while also learning to listen. We can treat differences with less hostility while still holding firm to our passions and beliefs. The practice of listening and inviting does not mean the foregoing of one’s individuality and identity. 

 

 

We get to decide whether we want to make an impact on people, or whether we just want to get our point across.

 

 

Signed, Kala.

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2 responses to “Signed, Anonymous

  1. Spot on!!! I’m pretty sure that a large percentage of the venom poured out in socal media “settings” is actually the author’s way of processing the heart of anger they are hanging on to, that results from life not going their way. I’m floored by the amount of angry people in our society; angry, filter-less people! Ok I’m done. I’ve given up my influence to post this.

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