I have had many different jobs, but the one that provided me with the greatest transferrable skill was working as a painter at a community college. Painting ceilings, walls, baseboards, fences, and railings taught me how to mud, tape, edge, prime, roll, feather, and spray - tasks every homeowner faces. I actually enjoy painting because it is the rare occasion when I can do two things at once - paint and think.
I was recently painting and thinking about how I find myself enjoying social media less and less. I am tired of the rants, divisive absolutisms, and blatant insensitivity that screams in my face(book) each time I log in. The temptation to respond to these posts is great, but doing so would only suck me into an endless loop of more of the same insanity.
I then realized that 5 basic rules that apply to painting can also be applied to social media posting.
1. SURFACE PREP IS IMPORTANT
PAINTING: Dents, rust, and stains on a surface show through a paint job if you do not fill, scrape, or cover them up first. While it is never as rewarding to prep as it is to paint, the end result is worth it.
POSTING: Before you pontificate, criticize, or scold on social media, take the extra time to prepare your post by going beyond the surface of the issue to learn more about it. I certainly am no expert on the history of immigration, race relations, or religion, are you? Dig a little deeper and scrape away some of the bias that might bleed through the facts of the matter, and know that whatever you put down on a well primed and prepared surface is more likely to stick.
2. TAKE YOUR TIME
PAINTING: Rushing leads to mistakes, which leads to more work. Paint droplets on a carpet or roller marks on the ceiling take away from a job well done...and take it from me, knocking over a five-gallon bucket of paint because you were in a hurry makes a costly mess.
POSTING: Type-o's and poor grammar and syntax make for sloppy work and distract from the point you are trying to make. Everybody is in a hurry to share their opinion, but resist an impulsive response - take the time to do it well...or is it do it good?
3. USE THE CORRECT SIZE BRUSH
PAINTING: Are you staining a stockade fence? Use a 4" brush. Are you painting detailed banisters on a railing? Scale it down and use a 2" trim brush as the application will go a lot smoother and make overlapping strokes easier.
POSTING: Do not use a broad brush to address detailed issues. Not all Republicans are monsters. Not all Liberals are idiots...there is plenty of overlap there. Sweeping strokes of the keyboard usually covers too much of one area and misses others completely.
4. APPLY TWO COATS OF FINISH
PAINTING: Applying a second finish coat gives the job a smooth and consistent look, and helps cover up shadows and brush or roller marks.
POSTING: Before you hit "Post," take the time to go back over what you have done and make sure it looks respectable from all angles. A second pass can give it a glossy finish.
This brings me to my favorite and most often applied rule:
5. IGNORE IT AND LET IT GO
PAINTING: Life's way too busy to get wrapped up in cosmetic projects. I have a fence that sits at the end of our driveway, behind a street hockey net that my son and his friends shoot pucks at. The fence has been obliterated with marks, dents, gaping holes, and missing pieces from errant shots. It is an eyesore - dreadful really. But why should I try to make it look nice when Danny and his friends are only going to keep shooting and missing? I am better off waiting until he goes off to college before I address it - until then, it just isn't worth the effort. I enjoy painting, but not that much.
POSTING: If somebody posts something you don't like, ignore it and let it go. More often than not, it just isn't worth the time and energy to respond to written bombs and opinionated shots. Surely you must have more important things to do...like painting a deck or fence.
If any of this content makes you defensive or angry, see rule #5.