Self-improvement has been on my mind a lot lately, which is probably obvious given the subject matter of my last few blogs. It is true that over the years I’ve adopted a more… loving view of the universe and other people but it’s important not to forget that progress is ongoing. I was reminded of that today when a friend pointed out that something I said on Twitter was more than a bit dickish. I deleted that particular thing because he was right, I was frustrated and said something unkind. Thinking about it more brought a few things to light in my mind.
The Greater Internet Jerkwad theory is a sneaky thing and I’ve fallen into it more than once. I am not just talking about this instance, but if you go back on my Twitter feed I’m sure there is plenty of stuff that would make one groan inwardly. Like the thing about the handclap-emoji-separated tweets - did that really need to be said?
I’m going to come back to the Twitter thing. For now though I almost feel like I shouldn’t have deleted what I said because it was (as Arnold so eloquently said to a troll recently) a teachable moment. For the last couple of weeks I’d been struggling a bit mood-wise and there were many times when I just decided to be quiet because I didn’t have anything positive to say. But it’s easy for me now to recognize when I am in a foul mood and not fit for human society. Today taught me that sometimes the customs dude in my head can fall asleep at the desk when I’m only a little tilted. For the record, it was Heroes related and I’m starting to think I should implement a “Don’t Heroes and Tweet” rule.
Writing this out has given me a little perspective which I appreciate a lot. I’m not the only painfully introspective person in the universe, so I’m sure plenty of people have gone through this progression.
- I make a mistake.
- The mistake is pointed out.
- Regret happens.
- I start to see myself through the lens of the mistake.
- I decide that because the mistake is an action that I took, it must be part of who I am.
- The mistake is bad, therefore I must be bad.
- Good things I do don't count because I am a bad person
- Cue the despondency.
I really wish I could draw silly pictures to make this more entertaining, but alas that’s not really how my brain functions. Basically because I at times say things that fall into the Greater Internet Jerkwad category, I must be a jerkwad. Not necessarily true - we all say things we regret later and wish we could take back in the heat of the moment, the important thing is recognizing it and doing something about it.
Which brings me back to Twitter. When it first came out I was not a fan. I thought that the brevity of the messages going back and forth would ultimately shorten the attention span of the human race. Nobody would read blogs anymore. Books would be mountains that no one would climb. It was a rather extreme opinion. But I’ve always been a bit of a catastrophizer in my personal and intellectual life. I’ve had to tamp down this weird feeling of superiority because I’ve read philosophy. As though that somehow made me a superior thinker. But in any case, one thing I disdainfully denigrated Twitter for was that it enabled people to broadcast short bursts of ideas without thinking them through. Then I found Felicia Day’s Twitter and eventually WeRateDogs. But thinking about it, I’ve fallen into the same habit I felt would plague “other people” because of using Twitter too much. Surprise surprise, self - you can be just as much of an ignorant jerk as anyone if you don’t think about what you’re saying. But it doesn’t have to be who I am.
I read a book recently about being successful in your life, and a definition of success it put forward was “having a goal, and working towards it”. It also suggested a 30 day test where you set yourself a goal, remind yourself of it every day and work towards it. It might be a pretty simple goal, but I think it would benefit me to keep my thoughts off Twitter for 30 days. Rather than blurt out whatever’s on my mind, I proposed to myself to keep a running document each day compiling my thoughts in order to determine if they are really worth voicing. And if they are, I’ll post them here in appropriately-considered complete sentences. Then, maybe once I start using Twitter again it will be with a more mature thought process in place. And proofreading.
Finally, as a caveat I will say that I’m not of the opinion that you, whoever might be reading this, should do what I’m doing. One thing I’ve learned is that what is good for one person might not be good for someone else. And I’m not saying anyone should start censoring themselves. I’d just like to purge the rest of Hater Sarah from my life by being more deliberate about what I give voice to. And I’m sharing something I’ve learned about myself because writing about what I learn is how I internalize. If you think doing something like this might help you… great! Link me to your blog and I’ll do my best to keep up with your thoughts.