Spend time working on getting yourself to a better mental space. Working on you takes more work and less effort worrying about what others are not doing according to your standards. Sometimes it is not even about that it's about getting people to the place you are at which is unhappy.
Interviewing several regular online participants revealed a not so uncommon thread. Some disgruntled while others seemed not to care what affect their words had on others. The main comment repeating itself was one of numbness, honest to goodness lack luster care about the welfare of others. From corporate to self-employed I was at once disgusted and hopeful at the results. At first glance these may seem mainstream but take a closer look. Callie: "I go online first thing in the morning to see what stupidity yielded today. Once I find someone who has been spilling their guts about the world's problems I go all in like a Kamikaze. I tell them to stop their moaning and die already."
In my interview with Callie I asked if she could demonstrate how she selects her next target. Going online with her I made a second request, would she allow me to choose the person and topic. She agreed joining in on a thread involving someone sensitive to violence. She starts by inferring that the person is naïve and doesn't understand life and that basically things happen, deal with it. The person expressed that they indeed were not naïve and wanted to see who else shared her particular view and kindly asked if Callie didn't have anything positive to add she could leave the discussion.
Things escalated from there with a rant on "how badly society needs to toughen up" according to Callie and "sitting behind a computer or device isn't going to solve the problem." Good points if she had followed her own advice. After the exchange of words I revealed to Callie that I had her speaking to someone familiar to her. I had reached out to a family member who knew of previous content posted by her and was not amused but didn't know how to broach the subject. The family member was in the vicinity and I asked them to meet us at the coffee shop we were currently. What happened next was both astonishing, promising and poignant.
Upon seeing her beloved family member approach our table Callie put her head down in what had to be the longest moment of silence I have experienced in my numerous years of interviewing. Silence gave way to sobbing and collapsing in the arms of her aunt who had long been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Notwithstanding the death of her husband less than a year before her fateful doctor's visit she was learning to live the life of a widow, sick and feeling depressed at having to see so much unresolved amongst her other family especially siblings.
When Callie was able to compose herself she still couldn't look her aunt in the face. Whether she deserved a lecture or not I couldn't say but her aunt handled it her own way. Resolute she cupped her niece's face in her hand and said "You know with all this talk of this and that matters there is one true thing, you must be careful about what you say because words matter. People will remember what you do but words can burn through the soul."
We sat and talked for the next two hours never knowing of her aunt's pain. She normally sat up in intervals during the day and never on a hard chair. This truly annoyed her as she was an artist with several pieces in local galleries and determined her life would not be interrupted by her sickness. In our phone conversation prior to the meeting I asked if there were any special needs or requests and in true fashion of what I soon learned to be a very gracious and kind woman, stately in character even as she faced her mortality she only requested hot tea, the rest we could play by ear. She drove herself to the coffee shop determined as ever to live a normal life right to the end.
The time Callie and her aunt spent together was priceless and while I did not sit with them the entire time to give them privacy, both she and her aunt were happier by the end of the afternoon. Happier than they had been in years. Sharing tips on increasing her own happiness started with how she saw herself not the way others may see her. Online may not give the real picture because people tend to get into the spirit of whatever the topic is and let's face it, drama and bravado sells. It raises emotions and at times spoils good intentions, not today though. Today Callie learned the difference between commenting and bashing seemingly faceless social media who all have a face and a name as she found out that day.
Its not that Callie didn't recognize there were people behind the threads, sorrowfully she became dismissive and desensitized because it is online. Behind the emoticons and exclamation points are real thinking, active heart motivated people. Right or wrong to your personal interest or motives they exist and breath and we need to watch the words coming out of our mouths because words hurt too. They also reveal what is not going on right in our own orifice. We all need a self evaluation periodically and now might be a good time. It will build within you a stronger force of critical thinking enabling a stronger family bond and bottom line for your career. No one likes the office or media bully and when it hits home it hits hard.
About a month after our interview I reached out to Callie and her aunt. Big changes as it turned out. Callie stopped some of her online activity and threads she was active on showed a kinder gentler tone but firm on views. Despite failing health she and her aunt continued meeting for tea sometimes at the shop or at her home when days weren't so good. Two weeks after the follow up phone call Callie told me her aunt had passed away. She cherished every minute she had with her and said that meeting those few weeks ago was the best thing to happen to her and instead of feeling resentment at the set up she thanked me. More importantly she got it. She got it.
As anyone dealing with the impending loss of a family member there is something seemingly understood by the dying person. They sense their time is short and I think that is what happened here, looks like aunty had one more thing to say to her niece. Not long after the funeral Callie finally sorted through her pile of mail of condolences and usual stuff and noticed a brightly colored envelope with a very familiar address on it postmarked two days before her aunt passed. Opening it she thought it was a joke. The plain card with a single lily, her aunt's trademark painted on the inside read "life is too short." The back of the card simply said "...so be happy."
Until next time~