On a daily basis we’re faced with different cultural implores: speak out, stand up, act now, march on. We’re urged toward change and reaction. Many of these appeals serve a positive purpose. We live in a dynamic era where certain norms are challenged. But sometimes those mentalities result in lightning fast responses that negate one very important trait: self-control.
Instead of offering thought and careful examination to something, we jump on the moving bandwagon in order to not feel left out. It’s the grownup version of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I don’t want to speak to any movement or issue in particular–this isn’t about what side you come out on in a controversial debate. Instead it’s about the road to get there.
Here’s a little anecdote to demonstrate. You know those filters or stickers that Facebook + Instagram come up with sometimes? They’re often related to political movements or they stand for something beyond just what they look like. Well, when they first rolled out I thought they seemed so fun. There was one in particular that I wanted to overlay on my Facebook profile photo. So there I go, jumping on the bandwagon, and hitting ‘publish’ with this brand new design. It didn’t take long for my sister to text me and say, “what are you doing? do you know what that means?” No, I didn’t. I hadn’t even considered looking into it. I saw someone else had done it and I had immediate FOMO. It wasn’t the end of the world. I changed it and my profile was no worse off. But it’s a small testament of what can happen.
Think of self control as a pause button. It’s not a stop, rewind, or eject. You’re not copping out by hesitating. You’re not dragging behind or being left out. News and opinions travel at the speed of light. I mean, one day a boy is yodeling in Walmart and the next he’s an internet sensation. It’s very easy to feel swept up in the moment. But, as I mentioned in my earlier post on gentleness, the loudest voice isn’t necessarily the true voice. So press pause before posting, before opening your mouth, before hitting send. Even if you come to the same conclusion you would have initially, ask these three questions:
- Have I spent enough time considering this?
- Is this beneficial or instructive?
- Can I be proud of this?
This process is not a science. It’s not perfect or definitive. We’ll all still make mistakes, have regrets, and do foolish things. But the times in my life when I’ve practiced self control and run through those questions, those times I can certainly tell you I don’t regret.