The one question to ask yourself before responding with anger

by Jay Fadden

A woman at her computer with her face in her hands

Today, the world is very different from when I was a young boy. New technology makes communication instantaneous, and yet I would argue that we communicate less because of all the technology at our disposal. We are so busy staring at our screens or texting that we are slowly losing the ability to actually talk to one another. It is now “easy” to criticize another person with sometimes vicious remarks because we are, in fact, disconnected by being so connected. It is ironic!

Have you ever read the comment sections of any article? The vitriol is disheartening. There are now people anonymously tweeting, texting, and commenting without taking responsibility for what they have written. They just move onto their next target, trying to get a response to what they have written.

This new type of communication is slowly finding its way into our everyday life, and it is not positive. I have witnessed young people who have absolutely no respect for authority or for others. Their filter has been removed. This has led to hurt and anger and the desire to respond in kind. When we get hurt, we can sometimes want to reciprocate and attack. It does not matter if it is a small issue or important—we want to respond. It may make us feel better at that moment, but is it the right thing to do?

Before I respond, I now ask myself a basic question: does it really matter? Does the topic or incident really matter, to the point of hurting another? By responding in kind, the situation can quickly escalate and grow from nothing into something truly terrible. It can tear apart families and friends, and yet, does the original point of contention really matter? How many times have you heard someone who has held a grudge for a long time say, “I can’t even remember what started this”?

The question “Does it really matter?” applies to family as well. Do you really want to hurt someone you love over a mess they left or leaving a light on? I am not condoning bad behavior, which should be recognized and dealt with. What I am saying is that the degree that we approach a problem and how we address it at that moment matter. My basic theory is to treat others how I would like them to treat my children, with understanding and love.

It is not easy, and in fact can be very difficult. But just keep asking yourself, does it really matter? We should be helping each other and building each other up, not tearing each other apart. We live in a “got you” society instead of an “I got your back” society. The change starts with you.


The one question to ask yourself before responding with anger