Two days ago, a truck in front of me dropped a 4×4 piece of lumber at 75 mph and being unable to avoid it, it ripped off my front wheel and all the suspension associated with it. I’m 100% Ok and actually was able to pull the car to the side without a front wheel or front brakes. But everyone I’ve told this story to seemed so angry at the driver of the truck for not stopping. I explained that he/she probably didn’t even know they caused a problem and while the wood falling off clearly was because of a mistake on their behalf, they probably would have felt terrible if they’d known it happened. They were probably oblivious to it as they kept on driving.
It made me think about a broader issue about how we look at problems and how we treat our fellow man and woman.
Often, we find ourselves in situations when something bad happens to us or someone makes a comment we don’t like. The first thought is that there was malice associated with it, and that someone should be blamed. The thought is that they did this thing on purpose and deserve to be punished. “Feeding frenzies” often ensue and nobody wins.
As I’ve told many of my friends in the last week, the words: “Benefit of the doubt” seem to be lost nowadays. I’m not talking about situations like the wood falling off the truck; That’s clearly carelessness on the truck driver’s behalf. No, I’m talking about the follow up comments that they must be such a jerk or how disgusting it is that they kept on driving. I’d like to give the truck driver the benefit of the doubt that they had no idea the the wood even fell off their truck and I’d like to believe that they’d feel bad if they knew it happened. My friends would love to see this person arrested. Calm down, I say. Give the benefit of the doubt.
We live in a complex world where social media has made things move way too fast. Often time, patients are quick to jump onto review sites and vilify an orthodontist for the silliest of things, many of which aren’t even true, and the damage to one’s practice and reputation is irreparable. And like the truck driver, the reviewer is far down the road, innocuous of the comment’s disastrous effect.
Let’s practice some tolerance on the web and in our practices. Let’s have some patience with our fellow man/woman and do our best to give benefit of the doubt. Often times, like my friends who heard of the car story, there are those who want to jump to conclusions and make assessments that aren’t true and raise a level of vitriol that is misguided and inappropriate, aimed at all the wrong people.
In our Facebook group, I often have to mediate issues when one person accidentally offends another. I need to step in and help repair a relationship. 99% of the time, like the truck driver, the first person never even knew they caused a problem, but the words online have no feeling or emotion and the reader often doesn’t know the one who posted. Generally, with just one private email conversation, both sides are satisfied. Sure, there are those out there who live to attack others and leave a trail of battered cars along the way, but that is definitely the exception, not the rule and most of us won’t tolerate that.
Let’s all realize that we’re here as a community to help each other, and let’s never accept any remarks that denigrate another. But that means that before we make nasty, rude comments or begin character assassination, we privately reach out to that person to find out of their intent is what we thought it was. It can save a lot of pain, anger and hurt feelings.
Wishing you an amazing day,