You never know the impact of the words you say or write until someone reacts to them.
I read and react to social media every day as I peruse my feed filled with thoughts and expressions, quips and snark. I’ve always tried to find a way to fit in everywhere a conversation occurred. I often found myself the wallflower bending towards the sunny conversation. Learning the idiosyncrasies of those involved and bringing in what I could to benefit and add to the discourse. With social media, the accessibility to these conversations is like being a fly on a wall to social circles I would have never been associated with in my typical walk of life.
I always fancied myself the jester. I wanted to be the guy who had the right funny line to say at any given moment. I was surrounded by others who were blessed with such a gift of humor. I felt blessed with a vapidity of a dunce. I never felt like I was a quick wit or a sharp observer with the humorous observation. But I tried.
Humor for me lies in the comparison; the mundane and the absurd hand in hand in hilarious color walking with awkward pride across my mind. At times however, my humor takes on an off color that I didn’t intend to be taken as such. I sometimes rush the constructed thought before I have a chance to edit or censor what may come off as an inappropriate. In the acquaintance of close company a wrinkled nose or a ubiquitously stern “dude” suffices to check me and remind me of having crossed a tenacious line going from humor to off color. Everyone has their tolerance for what’s funny, I do too. Unfortunately you don’t learn such limits until you’ve crossed that line. I am reminded of an incident in high school where I made a hanging joke not realizing earlier that day an underclassmen had hung themselves. I was bothered that I crossed a line without realizing the surrounding circumstances and had I known otherwise I would have never made such a joke. After the incident I sat down with the person I offended and talked it out. It was something I definitely learned from.
Then came today when someone I follow in my social networks made a post and in my head a response flickered in a “Well this would be far worse” type of response. It read as a bit off color but I wasn’t sure how it would read because it was definitely walking that fine line.
The reaction I was replied with definitely reinforced my hesitations to my quick, unfiltered reaction to the initial reply. A mutual acquaintance of the person I replied chimed in with a deeper reaction that I truly didn’t intended that bothered me throughout my day in the same way my incident in high school did. I redacted my poorly applied quip and reading an additional response in regards to my quip made me step back and look at how I effect and what my place is in social media.
What am I contributing other than trying to be the jester? Is that all I resort myself to be? An unfortunate off color joke away from alienating even my friends? I execute thought better in the long form so for now I am taking a step back from social media and refocusing my thoughts in a more constructive venture and delving back into my writing where y thoughts can simmer and percolate in a less rapid fire method where I can think out how my words effect those that read what I am leaving out there for the world to see. Everything I write is a reflection of my character. We all have our flaws and sometimes those mistakes are there for everyone to see. We hope they don’t hold it against us when they are seen and that one can be forgiven for erring as humans so often do. I can only step back now, give myself a break from the rapidity and immediacy of social media and focus my mind so that when I do come back I can contribute to the social web in a more quantifiable way than a fleeting joke. I think right now I am going to go have a listen to the Bee Gee’s “I started a joke”
For those I’ve offended today and for those I’ve offended before, I am sorry.