But what else am I? How can you relate to me? First off, I’m a Christian. A REAL Christian. I struggle. I fail. I enjoy swear words and good beer. You aren’t going to hear any preaching from me that isn’t coated with self-deprecation and the awareness that not one of us is perfect nor has it all together. But I couldn’t live a day without the knowledge that God is there and Jesus saved me.
Less importantly, I’m a big, big nerd, never found without a book nearby, and also a self-proclaimed music appreciator. Can’t play a lick, but I have a passion for music that rivals any musician’s. Put simply, it makes my life better.
And lastly, and most importantly to this particular post… I’m an Auburn girl. If you, like Christen and Raleigh and I, also studied at the Loveliest Village on the Plains, then you’ll know what I mean (and a big War Eagle to you!). And if you didn’t, stick with me, because I have a point that has nothing to do with football, rivalry, or anything of the sort.
-------------------------------------------------------- By now we all know the story of how a man poisoned the oak trees that have watched over Auburn and held witness to a century’s worth of celebrations. If you aren’t familiar with the story, read up here. The trees will likely die, and enough poison penetrated the soil that nothing else will grow there for years. So filled with hate, the person responsible for this chose to do something that not only would hurt thousands of people, but ensure a barren reminder to Auburn people for years to come.
And yeah, it’s awful what happened. Like so many others, and as was his intention, I was outraged. When you know that there is someone out there who intentionally sat back, plotted to kill something beautiful and alive just because he knows the act will hurt the people who care about it… it hurts. It’s an awful feeling to know we share this world with people who are just that mean.
When the news released, I expected the poo to hit the fan in a big way. I knew it would be all over Facebook and the news. Even here in Tennessee, people were talking about it. But what I didn’t expect was how much more meanness would be put out there in backlash. By Auburn people. By anti-Auburn people. By the general public who just didn’t understand. I have never in my life read such awful things coming from people I once respected and thought kindly of. I’ve rarely been as outraged as when people told me what I should or should not care about or mourn, and then tried to belittle me for caring.
And I don’t deal well with mean people. I’m a cryer. I feel my blood boil and my eyes water, and I lose all rationality. I literally want to punch someone in the face and say the nastiest things I can think of in response. And I’ll admit self-control has abandoned me at times, and I’ve truly embarrassed myself by allowing the rage monster to take over. (Well, I’ve yet to punch anyone, but I have thrown things and I may have kicked the shin of a dude in a bar one night, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Obviously this is unhealthy. Not only does it fuel the flames and likely cause harsher reactions from both sides, it simply is not the Christian way. Nor is it the Auburn way. I witnessed as Auburn people used cutting words and let hate engulf them so much that they abandoned the line of the Auburn Creed borrowed from Micah 6:8: to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.”
Now, I realize a lot said was in jest. But just as much was intentional. To me, the devil’s presence shows itself most when it infiltrates the human condition, reversing love and kindness to hate and sadism. You can’t always take life so seriously, but when faced the pure cruelty out there… what are we to do? How do you respond to mean people? Because they’re everywhere. What happened isn’t an anomaly. There will be other times I am hurt because someone intentionally hurt me or something/someone I love. This is especially true as we move more and more into online forums where people don’t have to identify themselves with a face or sometimes even a name.
So here are some pointers for managing damage control when it comes to dealing with mean, sucky people.
- Sit back and don’t react immediately. Calm down. Count to 10. Deep breaths.
- Refrain from name calling, especially online, in a semi-public forum. It's just not flattering. And you can delete or unpublish later all you like, but we all know the Internets are not to be trusted.
- If a someone angers you via Facebook, unfriend him or her, but not in hope that they will see the error of their ways and come crawling back. Because let’s face it, it’s just not going to happen. And if they’re that good of a friend that they would notice, it’s probably worth a personal message.
- Refrain from kicking anyone’s shins.
- Realize that some people just don’t get it. And that if they are on that low of an intellectual plane, they probably aren’t worth your time.
- Jesus juke them. Christian author Jon Acuff coined this term in reference to when someone responds in an otherwise non-Jesus-related conversation with a reference religion in a way that Debra Downer’s the convo. Usually this is to be avoided, as no good ever comes from it, but it would effectively kill any arguments or make it so awkward that everyone bows out.
- Even if you don’t believe in karma, just imagine you do for a little while. Indulge yourself with a few (tame) thoughts of how this person will get his. You’ll feel better. But don’t dwell. Not good for the soul.
- Pray. For yourself, the situation, and that person.
- Remember that you cannot control others.
- Practice the Golden Rule. Although now that I think about it, if I were so cruel to someone, I would hope they would kick me and bring me back to reality. So scratch #4.
What do you think, readers? What kind of tricks do you have up your sleeves?