Everyone Take a Deep Breath

I write this as I sit in an airport where my flight has just been delayed. A lady next to me just dropped a flurry of expletives as she called her loved one to tell them how upset she is. She’s an angry elf big time. If only she had just discovered the latest Facebook tech update I might have had the chance to see her head literally start fuming. This isn’t pretty…

Part of me is starting to think that this airport delay is actually just one big social experiment geared at figuring out what it takes to make people crack under pressure. All of the chairs are taken up and a lot of people are sitting on the floor waiting eagerly for persons with chairs to have to go the bathroom. Couples have an obvious tactical advantage. You can almost tell the persons flying alone by the look of discomfort on their face. Of course as soon as these people get up, go, and return to their chairs – their faces look even more uncomfortable than before. With a disgruntled look they glare at the person who instantaneously snatched up their coveted spot like “how could you? Have you no honor?” But the discomfort doesn’t end there – not by a long shot. The inconvenience appears everywhere: Some people’s Internet won’t connect; People keep complaining about the price of bottled water; It’s hot in here and people smell mmmmhmmm – wonderful. People are just getting downright rude with one another. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure the stewardess is about to get into a UFC title bout with one of the customers on the floor of the concourse. How dare we be made to feel uncomfortable! The scandal! The outrage!

I know that it may be a stretch but I think that people tend to be a little over-reactionary, myself included.

To my earlier reference, take for example the recent Facebook changes (Sept. 2011). The changes weren’t even out for one day and people were status updating: It’s “Facebook within Facebook”, it’s a “stalker ticker”, it’s “the imperialist imposition if Sith power!” Whatever you thought of it, a lot of people apparently didn’t like it within the first few seconds of its release. Instead of the immediate over-reaction though, maybe we just need to all chill out a bit and become a little more reflective before we judge something new. I’m not suggesting that we abandon our moral compass by any means but maybe, when it comes to relatively minor things like technological or traveling conveniences, it might be helpful for us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture before we declare the “update” or the “situation” the work of the devil.

For instance, if one considers that a little over a hundred years ago the main form of transportation in the world by the average person was animal power …well, maybe we shouldn’t complain so much. I mean, while our situations may sometimes seem pretty crappy at least its not actual manure that we have to deal with. Better yet, it doesn’t take weeks (or longer) to get up and down the coast or across the country.

And while I know that some people don’t remember this because it was back in the days of Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer and a lot of us try to understandably block as much of that that time in our life out as possible – there was a time when we didn’t even have personal computers much less Facebook. As a matter of fact there was a time, not that long ago really, when people had to actually walk over to a person and talk to them (heaven forbid!) if they wanted to interact.

Pardon the sudden celebration but whoohoo! The lady next to me just cracked and I got her seat and… ut ooooooooohhh… strike that I’m married. Wifey just took it. Talk about over-reactionary celebration.

Anyway, I for one think that we ought to give stuff like say, the new Facebook, a break as it seems that the FB crew is constantly working hard to design the site into something revolutionary. A good example of this is Facebook’s new update Timeline that Mark Zuckerburg and company are about to be release. This version of Facebook looks like a social network scrapbook of sorts. From what I’ve seen so far I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised by how it changes their social media interactions and these recent updates are just the first phase of that transformation. If you want to get the new version a few days before everyone else you can get it by following the steps listed HERE. Of course we’ll have to see how it all works out but I’m willing to give it a chance to grow on me and maybe all this initial groaning will just show us how impatient we really are.

What’s more, I actually think that it is good for a person’s character if they are patiently willing to endure the minor hardships of inconvenience (or even sometimes major ones) from time to time. Yes flight attendants can be mean, or our schedules can be destroyed, and there are certainly days when turbulence can be so bad that it has us reaching for the little plastic bag in the seatback compartment. All that being said though, modern travel and technology still radically beats our predecessors’ options even fifty years ago.

More important than that though, and to my greater point, people shouldn’t always get want what they want when they want it. Why? …because life isn’t all about you (or me for that matter). When we make our own constant satisfaction the goal of our lives, all we do is make false idols of ourselves. Our constant complaints just show our belief that we should be the center of everything… i.e. Facebook doesn’t meet our expectations or our schedule should be THE schedule. But when we submit ourselves to the reality of God working in the world, then quickly our satisfaction does not maintain such primacy. Our schedule and our contentment becomes secondary and every delay or inconvenience become an opportunity to experience life in awe of the Creator – appreciating the nuance and the complexities of the blessings that we have already been given. This coming from the guy whose flight now departs to Savannah at 11:59pm.