What to do instead of complaining

(Originally written in 2014)

Do you have social media friends who seem to do nothing but complain endlessly about something? Do you get annoyed by the regular tirades about politics, religion, or moral issues?

Are you maybe one of those people?

Here’s some food for thought, posted as much as a reminder to myself as anything else… It applies to many aspects of life, not just social media, and is not an original idea by me at all….

We each have our Circle of Concern. These are things that we care about: our health, our children, problems at work, government spending, what the democrats/republicans are doing, what FoxNews/MSNBC are saying today, terrorism threats, etc.

Then we have our Circle of Influence. These are things that we care about and can do something about, concerns that we have some control over. This is a circle inside our Circle of Concern.

We only have a finite amount of energy to devote to things. The more energy we devote to things that we cannot control or influence, the less we have for applying to things that we *can* make a difference with.

So by consciously refusing to get dragged in to expending energy on things outside of our Circle of Control, we actually have the power to be more of a force for change in the world.

This brings into the concept of “Proactive” and “Reactive” people — proactive people focus their time and energy on things they can influence, while reactive people tend to neglect those things in favour of focusing on things they can do nothing about.

Endless debates on a topic where you can be fairly certain that nobody is going to have their minds changed as a consequence of the debate are absolutely in the “reactive” camp — how many of those have you witnessed on your social media platforms? Making several posts a day to your entire friends list about a cause that you believe in is unlikely to change anyone’s mind — in fact, it’s more likely to put them off the topic. Is that what you intend to do?

Or are you posting it to get affirmation that your views are correct on a topic? Are you that uncertain of your own views on something that you really need a group of people who you already know agree with you to agree with you once again?

A lot of social media encourages the “Post before you think” mentality by the ease of pushing the button, and that is made worse when we feel really passionate about a topic. I would encourage people to think about why they are posting what they are posting — what is the goal that is desired from making that post and what are the odds that the post will do anything towards furthering that goal?

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