Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Communicating Deliberately - With Gefrain in Mind

We live in a time when communication has never been easier, or more pervasive, or more careless that it is right now.  With Facebook, e-lists, message boards, e-mail, chatrooms, cell phones, texting, Twitter, etc...we are encouraged to be wired-in, 100% of the time.  A cell phone battery goes bad, and its owner has a separation anxiety attack, because they aren't updating and beng updated with a constant flow of information.

These remote forms of communication have also worked to diminish our collective skill to talk and interact on a person level in real life.  Social skills have suffered, and there appears to be a large majority of people who have very few boundries.  Drama and dirty laundry is thrown about freely, with very little thought as to whether that is appropriate or wise.  Many no longer know how to negotiate, get along, and make their way through difficult situations without completely melting down and screamng it to the whole world.  The consequences be damned.

Recently, our kindred has had discussions about how to be more "deliberate" in our communications with others.  This goes for face-to-face conversations, phone calls, posts on Facebook, our message board, or just about anywhere on the internet.  And I though it might be useful to share what we talked about in an essay.  This is NOT an attempt to tell anyone how to act or who to be.  It is simply some observations and things to think about.

It is always wise before you speak or post, to ask yourself some questions about what you are communicating, why you are communicating it, and how you are delivering that message.  At first, asking yourself these questions takes some thought, but over time it becomes fairly automatic.

  • Does this fit who I am? 
  • Can I 100% defend what I'm saying?
  • Does this fit what a Heathen/Chieftain/Godhi/Thyle/Valkyrie (or whatever role you fill) would post or say?
  • Will this hurt or benefit our kindred, our friends, and our efforts within the region?
  • Am I causing unnecessary drama or hurt to someone else?
  • Does this start a "war" or problems with a whole group of people (and is that a "war" that is worth it and accepted by the kindred?)
  • Does this set an example for others that I am proud to set.
  • Does it fit how I want people to see me, as a man, as a heathen, as a father, and as a member of JBK and this region?  (fill in your own details) 
  • Is what I am posting appropriate for the youths of my kindred to read or hear?

Can anyone be perfect in this regard 100% of the time?  No, of course not.  But, the more you think about it and work on it, the better you become.

The conversation on this topic continued within our kindred, and we came up with four additional questions that should be kept in mind in order to ensure you are communicating "deliberately."

  • Does what your post reflect well on you?
  • Does your post reflect well on your family?
  • Does what your post reflect well on the kindred?
  • Does what you post reflect well on our region?

As meaningless and shallow as internet interaction often is...the perceptions we give people of who we are, what is important to us, and how we act and talk, definitely reflects on how many people, both heathen and non-heathen, view us, our kindreds, and all of our efforts.  And people are certainly watching, whether you realize it or not.  At any given time, there are likely a number of new heathens reading or lurkng on-line discussions and interactions, attempting to get some sort of idea of what heathens are like.  At any given time, non-heathen family members and just general members of society are watching what we post, making judgements about this religion and way of life they may never have heard of before.  Heathens and non-heathens from other parts of the country and world are looking at what we post, and making judgements based on this limited amount of information for their perceptions of who we are.

We're not talking about strict rules or guidelines on this.  This really is more about being an adult, and having an understanding that what we communicate does shape perceptions of who we are and what we stand for.  What we communicate and how we do so, has a direct impact on our Gefrain.  Knowing this, it only makes sense to be "deliberate" in our communications.

Your friends and members of your kindred should watch out for you on this topic.  If you see someone in your kindred at a gathering or on the internet, saying or doing things that are going to reflect poorly on them, their family, your kindred, etc...then it might be wise to take them aside immediately. Stop them as calmly and as drama-free as possible, and take them aside and give them a friendly heads-up.  If what they have said or done has caused a serious problem, then you might offer to assist them in setting the matter right.

Now, some may read this whole essay and come away with the idea that I'm suggesting that people should be "fake."  No where in this essay do I suggest that people should be fake, or lie, or hide the truth.  No where in this essay do I suggest any sort of deception.  I'm simply suggesting that thinking about what we communicate, why we are communicating it, and how that message is being delivered leads to a more level-headed, thoughtful, and effective way of communicating.  Gefrain (reputaton) means something in this world and in our communities, and there is every reason to tend to one's Gefrain by communicating deliberately.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

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