If you don’t know what a Jump to Conclusions Mat is, you obviously haven’t seen the best workplace comedy film of all time.
And if you have not seen Office Space, get thee hence to the Amazon!
The latest iteration of this stems from the United Airlines anti-leggings story.
Which came right on the heels of Glenn Beck firing the polarizing pundit Tomi Lahren from The Blaze.
And that was preceded (and post-ceded) by basically every tweet that happens immediately after Trump opens his mouth. Or his own twitter account.
It’s true that a LOT of totally bullshit things happen in the world. People say dumb stuff and they do terrible stuff. Sometimes people are awful.
But not all the time.
What I’ve really noticed more and more is the tendency to assume the worst before we know any of the facts.
I’m not perfect. FAR from it. I definitely do this too.
But I’m trying to knock it off.
Because I have been wrong way more times than I am comfortable being wrong. I much prefer to be right.
And so I’ve tried to really watch myself. To pay attention to my reactions to things. If I hear a story that makes me instantly react, I think about it for a minute. Or two. Sometimes for a week.
Getting angry right off the bat is bad for a number of reasons. The first being, obviously, that sometimes we totally misunderstand the situation. Which often means there is actually nothing to be mad at and we completely wasted that emotionally energy.
Sometimes getting angry IS the right emotional response. But stepping back and waiting for information gives us the chance to collect ourselves and use that anger in a productive way instead of a destructive way.
To just jump straight to something super inflammatory…
A police officer shoots someone. The instant reaction is to get angry because the police are racist and terrible. And then people riot and burn things in response.
But sometimes it turns out that the police shooting was actually not motivated by racism. Now you’ve burned down a small business for nothing.
And sometimes the police shooting was probably motivated by racism or at least something terrible and the police get charged appropriately. And you’ve burned that small business for nothing.
Okay, so that took a darker and more serious turn than I intended.
But I think my point is pretty clear.
There are plenty of bad things that happen. Some of those bad things don’t get punished, but a lot of them do.
And far too often, things we THINK are bad turn out to be nothing. Or, once in awhile, even good.
But you went and got yourself all worked up. So now what?
I can’t even count how many conversations I’ve seen or participated in where the mob mentality just becomes frenetic and toxic.
Let’s stop. Let’s breathe. And then get angry when it is warranted. But only if you’re prepared to do something with that anger.