Friday, April 10, 2015

That Thing You Do (Or Don't)

The most ordinary incidents often ignite the most powerful reflections.

Take, for instance, what happened to me a couple of weeks ago. It was early in the morning, on a particularly cold day, and I'd been waiting on the subway platform for about ten minutes. When the train finally pulled into the station, it was crowded. But that's normal for the morning rush hour, and I thought nothing of it when I slipped through the open doors and made my way into an empty space in the center of the train.

Unfortunately, in order to get there, I accidentally brushed against a fellow with my handbag. I immediately apologized, and he retorted in a not-so-nice way. I was obviously bothered, but as is the way of things in New York, I simply apologized again, and no one on the train said a thing for the next few stops.

An older gentleman happened to be sitting in front of where I stood, busy reading a newspaper. When the train lurched, the paper brushed against my arm, and he apologized. I just offered a smile and assured him it was okay. And that would have been that, had he not said, "It happens." and left me with a wink and a smile. 

For the rest of the day, I could think of nothing else. I puzzled over why this incident had made such an impression, until I realized that it had caused me to think about actions. In particular, it made me think about the tendency for drama and how individuals respond to it in our blogging community.

A Call To Act

Every day, in just about every moment, we are given the opportunity to choose how to act. Each one of us is responsible for recognizing the call to act, and to distinguish whether we should be reactive or inactive. We either start something, respond to something or ignore something entirely, and in the best case scenario, the context influences what we choose to do.It is important to put a lot of consideration on the how, why and should behind your choice, and it's best to have time to think before you do

Ready to React

When something is done to us,  we rise to the moment baited by our own instincts. That's always what happens in my case, anyway. We may, on any given day, offer a smile, a curt word, an apology - and those are just the simplest examples.

It is in the execution where I feel the line between a good or a bad reaction is determined. I've seen my fair share of reaction incited by unjust accusations or misinformed news pieces. In most cases, a reaction is necessary to propel the conversation forward and to continue challenging those involved to be objective and seek all sides of the situation. However, there have been many moments where communication failed, as the person did not cautiously choose their words or even temper their tone, hence rendering the valid opinion they might have had into fodder to stir up further drama.

So, what happens when a reaction isn't doing more than fueling the fire of drama? People get their feelings hurt, real arguments break out and a lot of escalating emotions come into play. It's always a shame when conversations that had the potential to be life-changing breakthroughs become endless cycles of drama, with people taking one side or another.

Staying Inactive

Of course, there's also a way to potentially prevent any conflict at all - and that's choosing not to act. It's actually a valid choice to remain unresponsive, and sometimes, it can be the right thing to do. But shouldn't we defend ourselves/the right thing/the right person/etc? I'm not saying you shouldn't, because obviously, everyone has the right to speak up and share their opinions. But I do want you to consider the fact that sometimes, it is better to be inactive, at least in the short-term.

It is totally legitimate to not act, to bide your time until you are fully informed and capable of discussing/acting on whatever it is without your emotions threatening to overtake your rationality. Hear me out. Sometimes, our instinct is to react. But when you haven't properly prepared yourself, or carefully chosen your words and the tone you'll use, our comment turn incendiary. Instead of contributing to a meaningful conversation, we make it into an escalating conflict. Instead of trying to be objective and understanding other people's opinions, we turn it into an "us versus them" situation where only one person can be right. It becomes a confrontation, not a conversation.

I've witnessed scenarios where two people who had differing opinions were able to discuss things in a rational manner. Sure, they may not change their minds, but at least it was an objective, rational interaction that allowed them to carefully consider another perspective. That, my friends, is much more productive than insults, accusations or being uninformed.

A Last Thought

When it comes to choosing to react or stay out of the action, it all boils down to one thing: respect for basic human dignity. We often hear about treating others as we would like to be treated, and this is the most important lesson I've ever learned. If you're kinder to others, that returns to you tenfold. If you're joyful, that joy is reflected back at you. If you stay hopeful, others will be inspired to hope too. Whatever we choose to present to the world, however we choose to react, it does make a difference, whether we know it or not

It is why I would encourage you, dear friends and readers, to continue to be kind, be patient, be loving in the way you respond to anyone, whether it's your always optimistic best friend or the subway commuter who reacts harshly to an invasion of his space. Choosing your words and your actions, particularly as a response, is but one way you can help make the world a little bit better. So, whenever you're given a choice to act, I hope you choose to act wisely and with love. 

13 comments:

  1. This is such a wonderful post, Alexa, and I agree so much. I think it's easy to just act without thinking through first and often that can lead to a lot of drama - often unnecessary drama.

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  2. Hi Thank you for hosting the challenge.. I am looking forward to it!! Thank you. I am challenging myself to 20 fantasy books this year..

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  3. Such a wonderful post, Alexa! I feel like everyone in the world needs to read this.
    Sometimes I want to speak out but it turns into escalating the conflict (mostly just in my home) so when that happens, I try my hardest to just stay inactive until I calm myself down or think things through before I say them. Not a lot of people do that, and instead jump down others throats which can cause more harm than not. I've been guilty of it, but learning to control that impulse to act out in a negative manner has turned out to be a really great thing!
    Rosie // www.rosiereads.com

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  4. Katherine @ Neon Yeti ReadsApril 10, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    This is a really great post and discussion! Recently (or at least since I have joined the book blogging community), I've been seeing a lot of drama and conflict between bloggers and authors. My reactions have been pretty varied, based on what is happening. Most of the time, I see it happening out of quickness, something that can be made even easier with how quickly one can compose a Tweet. And then that just adds to the fire. I've had a lot of fun book blogging as well, but I think the basic respect is super important!

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  5. This is such a wonderful post Alexa! I can absolutely commiserate with subway issues. It can be pretty scary on there so I always just concede when someone is unnecessarily rude. As it pertains to blogging / twitter, I always try not to get involved in other people's issues. There are some serious things that should not be ignored but overall, I'm online to have fun and make friends and I can't stand when others are overly dramatic.

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  6. Amanda P. @ Of Specs and BooksApril 10, 2015 at 2:19 PM

    Alexa, this is a PERFECT post! Thank you for writing it. Over the past years, I've seen a lot of drama, either with authors or bloggers, and you're right; it all comes down to how we react to situations. Waiting to respond until you are well-informed is a very important action, and we as a community should try to be gracious and understanding and kind. "It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder."


    Great post, Alexa! Seriously GREAT!

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  7. Shelumiel Gueco DSApril 10, 2015 at 7:05 PM

    Excellent food for thought, Alexa! I wish more people would consider what you talked about here. Because, in our generation of blogs and Twitter and Tumblr and other social media platforms, it is so easy to just click before you think. It is so easy to hand out judgments without considering the "after" or that the other receiving end is an actual person and that he/she has feelings too.

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  8. Ahh, I very much agree with this. Beautiful post Alexa. <3 Thank you so much for sharing about it :)

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  9. What a gorgeous post Alexa! So very much agree!
    Reacting and not letting people just walk over you is always important, but taking the time to think about reacting and not to make things worse by instantly going to the jugular is always a good policy!

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  10. Anthony @ DragonLaserSwordsApril 13, 2015 at 10:58 AM

    Just found this topic. This is awesome. :D I've already read a ton of books this year! :D

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  11. Ooh, a fantasy reading challenge! This is the second reading challenge I'll be participating in this year. I'm totally up to it!

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  12. Oh gosh I am L-O-V-I-N-G the idea of the challenge. I am relatively new to this whole concept of book blogging (not to reading haha) and am working on my own site right now so I will have to keep up for now on my Goodreads account. I am aiming to read at least 25 fantasy books but my "ultimate" goal would be 50!

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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