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To post or not to post; restraint may be best

One “bad” experience tends to kindle revenge in the hearts of people. They are dissatisfied with a meal they are served at a restaurant; the clerk in a retail store fails to provide the type of service they expect; minutes accumulate in a waiting room and patience runs low; they are offended by something that is said so they desire to vent their anger and Facebook, Twitter or Yelp provides an easy opportunity.

I wish I could say I was immune to such reactions but I am not. A long line at a grocery store comes to mind in which the clerk seemed to have no desire to speedup transactions and move customers through checkout. I quietly made a vow to never shop at that store again. Later, with groceries transported home I realized how ridiculous it was to form an opinion of an entire business by one experience.

This is not meant to defend serving hard cooked yolks to a patron who ordered eggs over easy or stores in which you need information on their products in order to make a purchase decision, yet can find no help. It is meant to encourage restraint, some thoughtful analysis before posting an adverse opinion that could be damaging. A term found in the dictionary for such behavior is to “tee off” on someone, or speak about someone or something in an angry way.

This usually happens when we are focused on a big capital “I” … making life all about us. We do not consider the plight, point of view or pressing problems that are perhaps consuming another person’s thoughts. We only see that we are inconvenienced, unsatisfied, disappointed and slighted. We assume we know all — the intent, heart, motivation and thought process of the other person.

As I work on this column, situations that trigger the desire to “give someone a piece of my mind” pile up. A card arrives in the mail to inform me my package will not be delivered to my door because it only has a post office box number on it. I check the order form and note the street address was provided. But I will need to set aside about two hours of my day to drive to pick it up. A dog in the neighborhood will not stop barking.

As a Christian, an attribute of God helps me shape a measured response. It is grace. From the Greek word “charis,” it is the unmerited favor of forgiveness or mercy given to sinners.

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others,” writes the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Philippi (Philippians 2:4).

God’s interactions with me are full of mercy and grace and my interactions with others should be the same.

In a discussion about lawsuits being triggered by posts that are considered libelous, one person wrote: “Don’t I have a right to my opinion?”

It is good to consider our motivation, the purpose for the post. Is the information something other people need to know for their protection? Will the person I am critiquing be helped, be better as a result of my comments or do I simply seek revenge?

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