Stop Reacting. Start Responding

This article was originally written for online publication The Mission – Accelerated Learning, Tech, Antifragility, and Definite Optimism.

We are living in a Reactionary Era.

The digital revolution has provided an immediate open platform for us to freely communicate and strengthen ties with other people. Instead, we cram incendiary criticisms and objections into 140 characters or less at the slightest topic that “offends” us, or make scathing, nonsensical remarks on serious topics without taking the time to read up on the subject at hand.

For every person who deserves a voice to express their own hardships, to reach out for help and assistance, there are hundreds who spout garbage to an audience that some in dire need could only dream of reaching.

For every serious attempt at a movement, a motion to spread awareness and fight a cause, there are countless armchair hash-tag generators gagging to scratch that viral itch.

Media hysteria fans the flames of these half-baked outcries on current events, distracting our focus from the real causes and effects until the fizzles out and it’s on to the next big thing.

News” articles mutate into Gossip Columns. “Angered public quickly took to YourFavouriteSocialWebsite” snowballs into reporting entire useless stories centred around a single person’s garbled online spewings and the wave of slacktist backlash it receives. “He/She said, they said” takes centre stage whilst the real matter at hand, the world event, the root of our concerns carries on unaffected.

It’s time to stop reacting. It’s time to start responding.

Reacting is hasty. Reacting is rushed, uncalculated and often done without proper thought. In anger, in fear. It’s misunderstood, misused. It’s impossible to express how you truly feel in a single sentence, or meme..(or bloody emojis). Its even worse if you’re just sharing for the sake of it, especially if it turns out the source matter is false.

Responding takes time. Time to review & digest the situation, to understand both it and how it affects you. It also allows you to add context to your statements so that others can learn and appreciate the situation, rather than just click a button with a thumbs-up symbol and throw it aside. Let them know why their attention is needed, rather than just demanding it.

If you feel strongly enough about something to react to it, do so by responding instead. You’ll likely get a much better audience, and a much better message across. If you want to react, and don’t feel you have the time or patience to respond, then its likely its not worth reacting to in the first place.

This applies to you too, journalists.

Lighting Designer, Freelance Graphic Artist and Self-Confessed Photoshopaholic.