Your Knee-Jerk Reaction Is Just For You

by nielskunze on July 7, 2012

You take a chance… You enter an online discussion… You eagerly post your opinion, maybe even link it to an article sharing your perspective… and wait…

Shit! Someone disagrees with you, and in the process they have engaged in an ad hominem attack, even calling you a troll! Son of a…!!


We all have immediate reactions whenever we are challenged. That’s part of being human. A spiritually mature human however does not immediately invest energy into that initial reaction. The Spirit watches with calm detachment… and then begins its inquiry. “Why have I reacted this way? Am I seriously wounded? Or has my ego merely been bruised by a superficial threat? Has my attacker made a valid point? Can I clarify my own position to diffuse the situation? What is the essential message I wish to convey in this exchange?”

These questions are typical of a “witnessing consciousness.” The Spirit observes the self, first and foremost. The power to persuade, the power to affect change lies wholly within refining one’s self in our interactions. We have no special power to reach into the minds of others to adjust their thinking. Instead, all that we can do is to learn to communicate more effectively.

Our knee-jerk reactions are solely to inform us about ourselves. When we immediately share them with others, we are betraying our own weaknesses and shortcomings. It is a foolish self-defeating strategy which accomplishes nothing.

Whenever I post a comment, I first ask myself “Is this adding to the discussion, inviting a considered response?” If the answer is “no,” I won’t post it. What am I defending? If there is no principle or key insight, I am far better off remaining silent. Oftentimes the very best comment is no comment at all. If you feel that you just must have the final word on… well, everything, ask yourself why. Do you truly believe that your own perspective is superior to everyone else’s– even for them? Really?

Too many times an interesting thread will spark a conversation among strangers… and before long it will devolve into a reactive mudfest diatribe with no value or substance whatsoever. The only way to ensure quality conversation is for those wishing to engage in such to make sure that with every single comment posted that is in fact what is being posted– quality conversation. The ability to ignore provocations, to refrain from calling out trolls– is the only way to keep the conversation on track. Telling someone that their comment is off-topic or inappropriate, simply invites and perpetuates the very detour we’re trying to avoid. Please stop taking the bait!

At some point we have to prove to ourselves that we are ready to accept the responsibilities that go along with freedom. Silence is powerful shit! I’m sorry, but our immediate reactions to things that make our blood boil… are crap! Press pause. Take a few breaths… and seriously consider whether a response is even warranted. We are all safe behind our computer screens here. No one is in imminent danger. And begin to count as personal victories every time you are able to express your profound indifference through uncompromising silence.

I enjoy looking through many of the varied conversations which are ongoing within the Facebook groups to which I belong. But threads which quickly grow to hundreds of comments are most often riddled with endless piffle. Please save me some time and show some restraint, some self discipline. Mom always said “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” Mom is smart.

That is all.

One comment

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by Neurfnund on December 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm. Reply #

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