A couple of years ago, I realized that social media (Facebook, specifically) was highlighting the fact that I can be a real dick.
That's not a pleasant realization to come to.
Now, to that point, I'd never thought of myself as a dick. In fact, I'd always thought I was a pretty nice person. And for the most part, I think I was. I think I am.
But back then, even though I used Facebook primarily to connect with people I love, it could really bring out the worst in me. Weird, huh? The issue? I had a difficult time passing up an argument, especially if it was about politics. This particular little piece of my personality is one I come by honestly. My immediate family is comprised of arguers. We're gotta-have-the-last-worders. And we don't censor ourselves or work very hard to be respectful. We don't engage to understand or open our minds. We engage to prove our point(s). And we get angry.
And that's exactly what I did on Facebook.
And I could be a real dick about it.
Of course, the people I engaged with weren't being nice either. Disrespect, name-calling, insults - they were rampant in all those threads. And the last word was gold, man. You had to have the last word to win.
But the "victories" (subjective at best) were hollow.
See, I didn't like how I felt after these Facebook debates, no matter how they turned out. I wound up feeling a bit sick to my stomach, angry with myself, and low. Very low. I was stooping to a level far below where I wanted to be.... far below the place I saw myself (wanted to see myself).
So I made a conscious choice to change. I stopped engaging almost entirely. When I did, I tried very hard to be respectful. I tried never to insult. I tried to hear the other person. If I couldn't, or if they weren't hearing me, I disengaged.
Sometimes, I allowed myself to get sucked in. Snark is in my blood, after all.
I still allow it happen sometimes.
And I still feel bad. Actually, I probably feel worse now than I used to.
Every. Single. Time.
I'm a work in progress.
But I'm on a real quest to be a better person. I'm on a quest to be the Diane who lives in my head - Better Diane. I ask myself, often these days, what would Better Diane do?
Better Diane is nicer than I am. She's smarter. She's kind and generous and grateful and good.
(But she's not boring. Honest.)
And she most certainly doesn't argue or get snarky on Facebook with any of the many, many, many people who haven't been paying attention to their Better Selves.
I want to be just like her when I grow up.