"A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back." ESV
There are so many arenas of life in which this plays out. The home, the work place, sports events, and on and on. Really this Proverb can be seen in action wherever people communicate. But there is one type of forum, one arena in particular that comes to my mind.
Social media, of course. I wonder sometimes what a healthy, wise use of social media (especially Facebook and Twitter) entails. It seems like the post that get rewarded, elevated, and interacted with, are those posts in which a person gives "full vent to his spirit." Facebook rants; biting, sarcastic memes; controversial posts, complete with response threads that devolve into ad hominem nonsense.
And yet, our electronic social media are those forums in which our society now engages in dialogue, conversation, and (supposedly) seeks solutions for today's problems. What is a wise person to do? Some people choose to avoid social media altogether, or to use it only for sharing fun pictures, or to observe and never participate, or some combination of all of these. Others feel compelled to participate in the conversations, to express their opinion, to "share" their thoughts.
What is this Proverb offering us? It is certainly not offering us answers to our questions regarding the use and purpose of our digital tools. It is, however, offering us insight into the motives, delivery, and purposes of our communication.
When you read this Proverb, whether you think of social media and the culture wars -like I do - or whether your mind goes straight to your tendency to snap at your kids when they ignore an instruction, this Proverb gives us a mirror. Today, let's hold up the mirror when we are engaging in conflict, in any arena. Am I about to "give full vent" to my spirit, or quietly hold back?
"Set a guard, Oh LORD, over my mouth."