3 Tips to Build Bridges vs. Burning Them Online

“Just love.”  That’s the inspiration my sister felt was important for her to focus on this year.  Remember my article on “Just breathe?”  Well, after I master the “breathing” part, I need to focus on “Just love.”

In a world where love tends to be a four letter word, it is difficult to find, be and share brotherly love.  The internet and social media has become a center for bullying, anti-love and intolerance.

There is a favorite story of mine about a young man named Enos.  He was raised by good parents that taught him to love others as God loves us.  One time while he went hunting, he knelt down and prayed.  He talks about how he had to wrestle with God, not in a physical wrestling like kids do in school, but that he was struggling to speak to God the desires of his heart.

Once he was in harmoning with God, his heart was full of love for his family and then his enemies.  You see, at this time in Enos’s life, there was great hatred, bullying, murders and war amongst his family.  He had two uncles that began to hate and persecuate their brothers.  When Enos was alive that hatred only increased and there was a great division between his family and his uncle’s family.  It was a time of war both verbally and phyically.

As I read Enos’s story, I could see how his love for all people is what is missing today in our society.  With advances in technology, we can instantly hear the opinions of one another throughout the world and reply back to a complete stranger within seconds from a kind “like” and encouraging words to hatred, anger and judgement.

With our digital world that we live in, the touch of our fingers has begun a war of words that has left battle scares in the hearts of millions throughout the world.  This is no longer a war against countries but within the hearts of fellow citizens, within common religious beliefs, neighborhoods and family members.  The lines on the battlefield have been blurred and no one seems to know who is an ally and and who is an enemy.

As I reflect upon the goodness of Enos and his desire for the peace and happiness, not only for his family but those who hated him, I see a pattern of love that is missing from humanity today.  How can we show that same love for those that persecuate our beliefs, have different political views and hold different views on life in general than we do?  How can we all show a particule of peace and love for one another at home and throughout the world?

We have an incredible tool in the palm of our hands that can be used to build bridges or tear apart hearts.  Do we use those hands to text and comment encouraging words of love and respect or do we use those same hands to bully, fight and disrespect?  We face this decision everyday and we have a choice to use the power of the internet to build alliances or to create enemies.

Like Enos, I try to build bridges instead of burning them.  Here are a few ideas that have helped me to voice my thoughts and feelings while still respecting and being loving towards others.

1.  Think before you Click – I sometimes find myself just fenting my anger regarding a comment that makes me upset.  I will type out a reply and then I stop, think and just delete it.  Sometimes just in writing the reply it gets the anger out and I can look at it more objectively and usually I just don’t even reply.  I think if everyone would try to “think before you click” post or reply, the world’s internet bullying and hatred would diminish greatly.  As a child, I learned a valuable statement that would be a great internet etiquette for social interactions.  “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men… If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

2.  Look Between the Lines – I often will try to look between the lines while reading something online.  When something is posted in anger or fustration, I try to imagine what could cause someone to post something in that way.  You know what they say about bullies right?  Usually kids that bully someone else have low self-esteem and need more love not more hate.  I think that same idea for kids definitely applies to adults.  Is there a lack of love in that person’s life?  How can we show grace and treat each other with respect when there is clearly some feelings hidden “between the lines?”

3.  A Yes before a No – I was listening to someone talk about saying “no” when asked to take on more than they can handle.  They described how you can respond by first a “yes” like “thank you for thinking I would be a good choice in helping with…” and then a firm “no” by explaining how you are unable to take on more responibilities.  This same concept can work on social media.  By trying to understand what the other person is feeling, asking or saying first and then voicing your opinion in an uplifting and not a judgemental way, we can become builders and allies .  This I know if not easy, but if you have mastered step 1 and 2, this step should be easier to tackle. (listen to a podcast on this subject of yes and no here.)

In the end, I have two simple truths that can help you become a builder instead of a burner.  First, if we can just follow the Golden Rule and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Second, “if you  have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  It seems to work within the home so why not within our global communities?

Now, here is your time to practice!  Let’s comment by “thinking before you click, look between the lines and a yes before a no” and see if we can’t create a community of love and respect in our own online sphere of influence.