Are you ‘fueling the fire’?

Civility and kindness in social discourse is a much more sustainable strategy

It’s called the “fire triangle” and those involved in fighting fires or students of fire science know it as one of the most basic models for understanding the elements necessary for fire—which is said to “an event” rather than “a thing.”

The three elements are heat, fuel and oxygen. And here’s the key: take away any one of those elements and the fire ceased to exist.

While I have no background in fire science, I ask a lot of questions (the natural curiosity thing) and became aware of the fire triangle a few years ago.

More recently, I began to mull over the connection to what I see going on in social media and specifically what I see as the toxicity that can exist around political issues.

I say “can be” because that some people on various social media platforms—mostly, it would seem, on Facebook—get downright nasty when it comes to reacting to the opinions/statements of others.

And the fire begins.

I admit that at least some of my uneasiness with the negative comments—yelling if you will—has to do with my own disdain for conflict. I’d much rather “get along” than stir things up.

Yet the most compelling reason in my mind is when I see people go beyond the core of an opinion and jump very quickly to personal attacks that have nothing to do with the facts that are being debated.

Here’s where the fire triangle comes into play.

As the fire begins to blaze in a group (which is where much of the “discussions” take place), one of the best strategies is simply to take away one of those three elements—heat, fuel or oxygen.

It’s difficult for many of us, but strategically, it works quite well.

In other words, don’t fuel the fire.

Certainly, there are times when we see opinion on various issues, with the apparent intention being to “inflame” or simply to stir things up for not much apparent reason.

Different scenario. Same strategy.

Again, it’s not always in our nature to “let it go.” I understand that.

But if we want to model a world worth living in, or at least the little slice of it we call home, each of us has an opportunity/responsibility to treat one another as we would like to be treated.

We already know what the alternatives look like.

Let’s snuff it out, shall we?

Get the Lambton Shield Daily Brief in your inbox:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.