Friday, May 26, 2006
  Long Distance Anger...
I've noticed and interesting phenomena on the 'net. It happens through e-mails, message boards, and all manner of other ways that we communicate electronically. Somebody makes a statement (or doesn't), someone else takes offense (where none was intended) , and the whole thing escalates until it either explodes and people engage in flame wars or it immediately collapses into a black hole.

This has happened to me a few times and to other people I know more than once. And it's hard to know how to deal with it. If you ask before getting offended ("Did you really mean this in this way?") then you might come across as overly sensitive. Too often you end up assuming the worst and don't do anything to correct that mistake. Heck I've had this happen with people I live in the same town with.

If you are reading this and you have a long distance friendship that has turned cool because of something along these lines then you need to take steps to fix it. How do you do that?

If you're still angry then you need to repent, especially if that anger has caused you to sin. And remember, repentance is not just about God. Christian or not you need to go to that person and say, "Look, I messed up. I got angry and I'm not sure that I had just cause." Anger is almost always a fruit of either insecurity or selfishness, both inward turning. It's not about you, it's about relationship. It's up to you to restore that. (Eph. 4:26)

After you've done that you can start looking ahead. If it's someone you're in a relationship with (be that a friendship or a more romantic thing) then it's your responsibility to be "slow to anger". You know this person (at least on some level. Ask yourself after reading something that they wrote, "Would they really do this thing to me? Is there any possibility that I'm reading this wrong?" Then you need to risk looking like a weenie and going to them for clarification. What's worse, looking like a weenie or losing a friend? (1 Cor. 13:5 James 1:19)

As time moves forward we'll continue to rely on the written word to communicate and in a fast paced world that missive will not always be as well written as the letters of generations past. With that in mind you also have another charge. Before you click "Send" or "Post" re-read what you wrote. Do it as best you can while divorcing yourself from any knowledge of intent. If you can have a machine read it out loud (easy enough with a Mac) then do so. Is there anything in your writing that can be misconstrued? Does what you're writing speak in a way that makes your intent clear? I'm not saying that we can't engage in sarcasm. I think the net would implode if the barbs between friends (or even enemies) stopped completely. And I'm definitely not an advocate of smiley faces. I use them from time to time, but I think you need to be a good enough writer to communicate you feelings via words alone.

All of this really only requires you to do one thing. Think. Think before you send. Think before you get angry. And talk. Okay that's two things. Talk to the other person, on the phone, face to face, whatever you can do. Hear the other person's voice from time to time. Email is great because it's free and if you're out you will still get the message, but it really shouldn't be a substitute for relationship.
Once we were getting a ping attack. I wrote you, Bear and another friend named Tom and told you all to cut it out.

You and Bear responded with smart-alecky demands for "internet protection money" or something like that. Tom, on the other hand, became offended and though I was accusing him of doing the ping attack.

So what you say can happen inadvertantly. They say that, in face to face contacts, 90% of the message is non-verbal. In the online world, you lose that 90% so things are often mis-interpreted. Good warning to give.
I love you, Scott.
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I love you too you big queer bait.
You are right.And at that time I would say forgiveness is the best action to do.
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