Rules for Writing in a Socially Unaware World

You’ve run into them. I’ve run into them. After several years of actually having cell phones, one would think some sort of etiquette would develop, but it doesn’t.

I can be preaching and someone’s cell phone will go off. Instead of scrambling to get the thing silenced, everyone keeps acting like it’s not theirs. Then, inevitably, someone realizes: “OH! That’s ME!”

Most of the time, they will then hit the button that sends the caller to voicemail, and then proceed to put the phone back without putting it on silent. The caller, who really wants to talk to them, calls again.

Occasionally there will be someone who will actually put the phone on silent.

Of course, you will still get the ones who finally realize it’s their phone… and answer it.

“Oh, hold on!”  they will say in world’s loudest whisper. Then, they will get up, climb over three people, and head for the exit, which is now about three football fields away. (All the while they will keep on whispering loudly into their phone, “Hold on!”)

One meeting I was at the phone rang, the guy picked it up, cupped his hand over the phone like it was a private conversation, and proceeded to talk while the guest speaker was still trying to present. The cupping motion only created a bit of a megaphone effect so we could perfectly hear what he was saying. It also didn’t help that the man was an older gentleman and hard of hearing himself.

It seems the more “socially connected” we are… the more socially unaware we have become. We just give so little regard for the surroundings.

Blogging is no different. Other social outlets are challenges. Someone makes us mad and we write away on our blog or Facebook page and scream at someone who will never read what we are upset about. I’ve done it.

It feels good. I’m not gonna lie.

Dealing with difficulties is always a tough deal. The best way to deal with a disagreement is privately.

I remember several years ago the editor of a local paper had written one of the worst editorials I had ever read. It was shamelessly one-sided and so out of balance I just couldn’t believe my friend had written it. I knew his viewpoints and knew I could disagree with him, but the tone of the editorial was over the top, even for him.

Instead of writing an editorial response, I called him. I let him know how it came across and we had a tough conversation. It helped him see how some things really do get blown out of proportion.

Most of the time, we don’t care. we let them get blown out of proportion. It makes for good press, as they say.

But tough matters need to be dealt with on a closer level. That’s what I notice with Paul and the Corinthians. While these letters are now public domain, it’s obvious Paul was writing privately to people. He had to be tough. They were tough on him in return. There are some tense moments in these letters.

And that’s how life is. We need to deal with tough issues, but the BEST forum is personally. In that context you get to hear each other, respond, and understand what words are really doing.

When Paul wrote, it was a dialogue. When he found out his letter had hurt them, he wrote to bring clarity. There is a need to keep talking.

In a day when we just want to yell in public, maybe our best move is to dialogue in private. Put the issues on the table, along with the feelings, and get things worked out. It may be cathartic to yell on a Twitter post, but it is healing to dialogue with someone and get things right.