A few weeks ago, I received a nasty text through Messenger where the f-bomb was dropped thirty-seven times, along with all sorts of insults hurled at me. I didn’t take it too personally because I knew the person was angry and needed to get it out of her system.

I gave her enough respect to read what she had to say, and then I tried to engage her in a discussion to explain my side of the story, only to be blocked because she refused to understand my perspective. In any situation, there are always two sides to a story, sometimes three of four sides. It’s a lot easier to play the role of the victim and think that everyone else is wrong than to try to understand where the other person is coming from.

I am not a malicious person. In fact, all of this came about because I was trying to be nice and not hurt anyone.

I’m not going to tell that story; it’s too personal.

I only bring it up to illustrate the negative parts of social media. Access to other people is too easy. Abusing another person is also too easy.  Finally, assigning blame and accusations without attempting to understand another person’s point of view is also too easy.

About a week after my experience, I deleted my Messenger app, determined to never use it again.

That only lasted a few days, and then I uploaded again.

I like Messenger because I find it is less intrusive than calling someone on the phone. A simple text is put out there, and if the person receiving it is busy, they do not have to return the text right away, if at all.

I like to read, I like to think, and I like to write, so it is a nice form of communication for me. It does not mean that I cannot talk face-to-face with people. If anything, it helps me to communicate better face-to-face because conversations that begin in Messenger continue in real face-to-face conversations, and it allows me to be more thoughtful.

It reminds me of when I was in graduate studies. I had courses on-campus during the summer and on-line classes during the school year. Class discussions during the on-campus courses were a gong show because the overly extroverted students dominated the conversations and really did not have a whole lot to say. I much preferred the on-line courses because we read articles, thought about them, posted our responses, and then engaged in on-line discourse with others who read the articles. Through the process, we all gained a greater understanding. And so it goes with Messenger, if used correctly.

While I wrote of access to people being too easy as a negative, it is also a positive. Around Christmas, my school counselor from elementary school sent me a thoughtful message about my brother that truly touched me. When my brother Dean was in elementary school, he was kind of difficult at times because he was outspoken and often got into trouble for it. The school counselor wrote to me about how he always stuck up for my brother, and how his experience with my family shaped his career. He even drove all the way into Edmonton from Leduc to see my brother before he died, but was unable to see him at the time.

I was so touched that he took the time to contact me after twenty-six years. Ultimately, that’s what I like about Messenger, and I am not going to allow one bad experience to scare me away. For every negative in life, there’s always more positive, and that’s what keeps me going.



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