Why do people do what they do? This is an age-old question. We will never have a complete answer for this question in every situation. But one thing that we do know is that everyone does everything for a reason. The reason seems “good” and “right” to them at the time. Their decision to act might be motivated by stress, anger, fear, joy, revenge or any number of personal, professional or political motivations. Whatever the case, for each person, in the moment of their decision, they will think that what they are doing or what they are saying is “good” and “right”. This is true even if, in the moment, they had the opportunity and the ability to admit that what they are doing isn’t “nice” or “fair”. In fact, when many people are making a decision to act, the concepts of “niceness” or “fairness” aren’t even a blip on their radar screens. Most people simply act. Most people simply do what they do in the heat of any given moment because they think it is “good” and “right”.
This isn’t a criticism, this is merely an observation. For there isn’t one person reading this blog right now, who hasn’t made a decision in their life that they didn’t think, in the moment, was “good” and “right”. We have all made hasty decisions, not based on facts, but based on emotion, anger, frustration, fear, etc. If we could go back and talk, in that moment, to the younger version of ourselves we would find someone that we couldn’t reason with because we had already made up our minds. The goal of this kind of mental exercise is not to change the decision, because in that place and in that time you made a decision that you believed was “good” and “right”. The goal is to learn from the process and to ask ourselves the all encompassing question of why did I do what I did? Once you and I begin to understand why we make specific decisions, we will be better prepared for any and all new decision making situations that we will face in the future.
This reality, this process of learning and growing through discernment, which enables us to better understand why we make certain decisions, faces a new challenge in our modern age of social media. The challenge we face is the fact that once we put our decisions out there in the public realm, through social media, they can’t be taken back. There once was a time in which each of us could get naked and howl at the moon and nobody but yourself, and anyone else who happened to be physically in your presence, would know. Now, people get naked and howl at the moon and then post it on social media for everyone to know. The former allows you to learn from your mistakes and to move onward and upward with little residual damage. The latter brands you forever and just when you think you have moved on, it rears its ugly head all over again.
Why do us people do what we do? We might never know all the reasons, but we do know that every person makes a decision to do what they do because they believe it is “good” and “right” in that moment. When the moment is gone we might look back and realize that our decision was misguided, wrong or even down right rude. But since we shared our decision on social media through a picture or re-posting a story or opinion or even venting our own personal thoughts, we will forever be seen as “that guy” or “that girl”. This very kind of forever labeling is one of the many reasons why our culture seems so divided right now. One bone-headed comment, one bad decision on social media and everyone will always see you as “that guy” or “that girl”. You will always be seen as that conservative, that liberal, that racist, that sexist, that bigot, etc. The sad fact is that I know that there are so many good people out there who don’t stand a chance because of what they have carelessly or foolishly shared on social media without considering the consequences. What is really funny is that people who follow you on social media are called your “Friends”, but a friend would never judge you simply by misguided, ill-thought, bone-headed comments or pictures on social media. The people who do that aren’t your friends!
And for those of you who are reading this blog and are wondering just what misguided, ill-thought or bone-headed comment or picture I put on social media that caused me to share these thoughts, stop. It isn’t what you think. I wrote this blog as a personal exercise because I was reading other people’s misguided, ill-thought, bone-headed comments on social media. Some of these very same people, whom I know personally, aren’t as misguided, ill-thinking and as bone-headed as their posts seem to be.