Last night a friend slapped up a dumbass political post on Facebook and I slammed him with a righteous reply. I felt so proud. This morning I feel like shit. I’ve got that Facebook righteous-reply hangover again.
Oh I thought I was so clever. So composed and careful. It was not a rant or a screed, I told myself. It was a lesson in compassion. Oh I made the good points. Even told him I loved him. I came not to shame him, but to teach him a life lesson in compassion and empathy. So why do I just feel like an overbearing asshole now?
Just like at the party when you know you’re going too far and you don’t stop yourself. Just one more drink. Just one more old story that everybody always loves. One more witty and pointed come-back. “You had to have the last word, last night./You know what everything’s about.” And I did too, baby. I had the last word on last words. I shot out the lights. There was a stream of approving comments before mine. After mine: the silence that echoes down the news feeds.
Yes, his post was brimming over with free-floating anger fired off at an easy target, notably lacking in compassion or critical thinking and borderline racist. But part of why I feel crappy about myself now, is that I seized the license I felt that gave me to slap him down in public. Yes, he was dumb enough to post his shit in full view of all his FB friends and loved ones, so in a sense that made him fair game. But now I feel like a coward and a bully for responding in the same manner. I should know better.
An old boss of mine, a great leader, used to have a rule. She always praised her people in public, and she only ever scolded them in private. If I truly meant to deliver a lesson in compassion, I should have showed him the compassion of not calling him out in smug graffiti scrawled all over his wall. I should have just sent him a private message. I’ve already begun working on an apology and explanation. But somehow, that’s harder than just slapping him upside his dopey Facebook-wall head. It’s all too easy, isn’t it, to shoot spitballs when someone isn’t looking. It’s different to shoot them in the face. Maybe if I had real courage, I’d call him up and tell him what I have to say. But I can compose my thoughts so much better in writing. And he can’t interrupt me. He can’t talk back until I’m done…
Now. To be fair to myself, I did look back just now at what I posted. It actually did display compassion while trying to teach compassion. It did challenge him to be better, not just trash him. But it was also harsh. I deliberately targeted his tender spots. And again, it was done in full view for all to see.
So what is the moral? For me, as with your more orthodox hangover, I hope this one will remind me to curb myself. I’m not much of a fan of self-righteousness, least of all my own. Yes, he asked for it in a way. It really was a dipshit post on his part. Yes, I didn’t just body slam him without a point. But nevertheless, a conscience is as individual as a finger print. And mine’s been pricked. “I know when I’m right, I know when I’m wrong, yay-ay,” sang Pete Townshend once. That’s always stuck with me. I thought I was so right when I posted that damn thing. Now I’m quite sure, by my own lights: I was so damn right that I tipped right over into wrong. And don’t I know it.