Overreaction Monday

Angry faceThere’s a local sports-talk radio program that had a regular bit called “Overreaction Monday” during football season.  It was always my favorite time to listen, as they gave their knee-jerk, over-the-top commentary on the home town team’s performance on the field the previous day.

I’m afraid we are living in a culture that lives in a perpetual state of “Overreaction Monday”.

Take the Whataburger fiasco of last week.  Within hours of the CBS news article going live, the story spread like wildfire on internet news sites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter.  The problem?  The local CBS news got it wrong.  If only the news had waited and let the story unfold, they could have painted an entirely different picture.

The real story?  A loved and trusted Whataburger night manager made a horrible mistake by joking that he wouldn’t serve two police officers (not local Lewisville police, but visiting police brought in to help oversee some of the late-nite highway construction mess we are living with in our neighborhood).  He immediately realized the mistake, apologized for the blunder, and began processing their order.  The officers didn’t accept the apology, left, and contacted CBS news.

And then the story broke.  At least the story that CBS wanted people to know and pass along.

I’m still waiting for the truth to be made public.  The truth that although Corporate Whataburger had to fire the employee immediately (to avoid a massive public relations nightmare), the Lewisville Police Chief has asked Whataburger to give the manager his job back.  Our local Whataburger is a favorite hangout of LV police and they know this was a situation that could have been handled much differently.  LV police have continued to show up to our Whataburger to give encouragement to the store and patrons.  It’s been pretty cool to see.

But now, outside of our little pocket that gets to know the real story, the damage is done.  I just checked the CBS article this morning (the one entitled, “Lewisville Whataburger ‘Don’t Serve Police'”, the original post from six days ago), and there are now nearly 6,500 comments…the most recent was just eight hours ago.  And they continue to be vile, hate-filled, racist and fueling the fire of divisiveness and fear in our country.

And this is the same article that thousands linked to, just hours after it originally posted.

I learned a lesson as a young pastor that has served me well in most every area of my life.  When I counsel couples through marriage difficulties, I always assume there’s more to the story than I am hearing.  Sometimes they are hiding because of embarrassment.  Other times they might be withholding, to try to influence my opinion or help.  Sometimes there are parts of the story that are simply too painful.

No matter what, there is always more, and I have learned the best way to deal with this is to give time.  Time to let the story unfold.  Time for the whole truth to come out.  Time to give both sides their due.  Time to process.  Time for cooling.  Time for silence to limit the damage.  Time for natural healing to take place, if it can.

And most of all, time for me to make sure I am not judging unfairly or reacting to something that may not be entirely the truth.

Can I offer a bit of pastorly advice?  When you hear, read or see something that hits a nerve, challenges your sensibilities, or flies in the face of your values, would you push the pause button?  Use the time to pray for wisdom.  Use the time to research and make sure you are reacting to the whole story.

And most of all, use the time to be sure that, if you are absolutely compelled to pass on the bad news, at least you are passing on the truth.  It’s truly the least you can do.


11 thoughts on “Overreaction Monday

  1. I wish we still lived in the age where he media did their job. Actually investigate a story before taking a stance.

    I am in agreement with hitting the pause button. In an age where information is at your fingertips, an intelligent person would pause to ensure the information they have is accurate and without bias.

    Forgive the cliche phrase, but WWJD??

    I think he would pause and reflect and use the information to teach the right way to respond. Without malice, hate, and inflammatory language.

    Thanks for your post Mike!

  2. Honestly, I was already over this story. What, just because this is a little close to home I should continue to care?

    We have enough half baked stories on our side of the bridge to muse on.
    (see Teasley appt complex)
    Someone made a horrific mistake. I have made bad social decisions all my life. When you live for the comedic moment, you have to be prepared for the fails that come with it. THANK GOD that social media didn’t exist in my heyday.

    What gets me is I see all makes and models on Facebook and twitter post half stories.
    This includes:
    Hipsters, Christians, Atheist, Liberals, Conservative, Bernie Sanders lovers, Vegans…

    I respect those more that post none than those that post many.
    What you post says something about you, and it may not be a good thing. WWJD.

    1. Just trying to leverage the moment to teach something important. I can’t always write about hamburgers and baseball to keep my audience of thirteen entertained…

  3. Are you call me a thirteen year old?

    I agree with you 100% on the teaching moment. But my brain has already moved on to the

    The Breastfeeding at Marshall’s-gate
    “The View” and the Miss America Nurse issue-gate
    The High school football player’s suckerplowing the ref-gate.

    I think I will be existing the social media train soon. Can you setup to fax your blog soon?

  4. React [ree-akt] verb (used without object)
    1. to act in response to an agent or influence;
    2. to act reciprocally upon each other, as two things;
    3. to act in a reverse direction or manner, especially so as to return to a prior condition;
    4. to act in opposition, as against some force;
    5. to respond to a stimulus in a particular manner.
    (Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/react?s=t)

    I tend to not use the word “react”, as, for me at least, I have found that, most of the time, it is defined most often as #4 and 5! Instead, I use the word “respond”, which is defined by http://dictionary.reference.com as “to react favorably”. Too many times, we as fallen individuals, have an emotional “knee-jerk” reaction to what we read and/or see and will allow that emotional response to drive our fingers toward and across keyboards with little or no thought behind the impact our words and thoughts might have on others. And many times, with that in mind, news media can allow that potential reaction to drive a particular influence in their favor.

    May we all “. . . be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19b-20, ESV).

    1. IMO, most reactions are defined by #4 and #5, but we convince ourselves we are using definition #1-#3 in our reaction.
      Again IMO, this is why we think we can get away with saying whatever we want and spread what ever gossip we want.
      The world needs our reaction, otherwise we are not American.

      1. People, in general, hind behind their keyboards. Most would never utter the words they write in a face to face argument or discussion.

        I believe it’s because there is personal interaction. They may have the same passion for what they want to say, but choose their words a little more carefully.

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