Something I’ve been thinking a lot about this week is how to learn from past experience when moving forward to new, yet unknown ones. And that is what this week’s blog is a little bit about; written by one of our lovely Hubbers, Jane, it reflects on a tricky event and considers how to move forward with grace, love and growth. Enjoy!

‘I learnt a few lessons the hard way this week. And for 24 hours of my precious time on this Earth I felt something that alternated between self inflicted anger, sadness, foolishness, self doubt and the desire for revenge. What a silly way to have spent a day at the end of the beautiful month of June.

I’m afraid to admit that I got into an argument with a complete stranger on Twitter. Over two passions of mine – plastic recycling and gardening – of all things!! I won’t go into details, but by the end of it I had been called names that I had never been called before. I was bruised, deflated and crawled to the sofa to lick my wounds.

Although the old adage of never go to bed on an argument is a good one, social media adds a whole new dimension to that and I did go to bed on this particular argument. Fortunately, a good sleep and a fresh dawn brought renewed clarity to my thoughts.

I looked back over what I had written and the angry knee jerk judgemental responses I felt it had brought. And I began to see that possibly what I had written, had simply been misinterpreted. That in trying to condense thoughts about gardening and plastic recycling into 280 characters, someone had seen fit to interpret what I thought I had written, in a way that was never intended. That in going to the wider world outside of my usual friends and family, the things my friends and family knew about me and took for granted, a complete stranger would have no context for. And although I still felt bruised and humiliated, I began to soften my stance. I realised that the problem isn’t just that what is said can be misinterpreted, but also that there is the ‘softer’ content to our thoughts and beliefs that remains unsaid in such a setting.

And so, what have I learnt? I’ve learnt that it is helpful to take time to reflect and to be prepared to recalibrate my thoughts. I’ve learnt to be more aware of our differences and that people’s perception of me may not be my perception of me. And that that’s ok. I’ve been reminded that all voices are valuable in a discussion and that in order to really listen we need to acknowledge there are lived experiences behind those voices. And I’ve realised that having been on the receiving end of misinterpretation myself, whether its politicians, royalty, campaigners or simply a stranger, most people come to ‘put themselves out there’ propelled by good intentions.

I’ll be avoiding Twitter for a while. But when I return I’ll be sure to remind myself that behind words are people and behind people are lives. And approaching discussions with a desire to understand others, to think kindly and to listen, is to make sure that interaction with strangers is a positive experience all round.’

Thank you so much Jane for taking the time to share your reflections with us; your writing really resonated with me since I often struggle with the unkindness all too frequently found on social media. Working with young people, I worry about the negative impact of social media, but also want to embrace the positives, of which there are many, including connection. So I think it’s wonderful that you’re able to find joy and learnings in your online conversations and to share those with others.

What are your thoughts on social media conversations, Hubbers? Are you a fan or do you stay far away from it all? Let me know your reflections over on – all the conversations I have there are lovely, at the very least!