Words….finish the phrase

Quick word association test. Finish the phrase – “Words….”

Did you say “hurt”? That was the phrase that came to my mind. Maybe it’s because I’ve just been glancing at my Facebook feed. Sometimes, it feels like it should be called “ANTI-social media.”

The anonymity of the internet seems to remove any filters we have in place when dealing with people face to face. The gloves are off, and some people verbally gut-punch hapless individuals who made the mistake of saying something they don’t agree with. It’s getting ugly.

We all grew up being told some variation of the “Golden Rule”. You know – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. My mom’s oft-repeated warning was a variation on the theme – “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Another popular quote advised us to “make your words sweet – you may have to eat them later.”

Whatever the quote, the basic lesson was the same – be nice. I’ve worked with numerous children over the years. When my preschoolers would argue, I’d remind them to “use your words.” And I always coached them to use kind words. When two of my pre-teen girls declared their hatred for each other, I did an exercise where I asked them to write one thing they liked about their classmate. I had to laugh when I read what one girl wrote – “Amanda doesn’t pick her nose.” Well, that’s a start, I said.

I know other adults repeated the “be nice” theme, in various ways over the years. It’s just the way we’re raised. Why then, does it seem all our childhood training has been forgotten? What is it about social media that tears away the years of childhood training? It’s as if we have forgotten the basics of potty training, and now have “potty-mouth”.

Perhaps it’s time for a social media platform that emphasizes kindness and tact. I’m not talking about a site that polices and removes dissenting opinions. I’m talking about a site that reminds people about the Golden Rule. Conflicts that can be handled with compassion and a willingness to see the other person’s point of view. Dialogue, rather than dissent.

I know – I’m living in a dream world. Times are hard and people are stressed. They take out their frustrations on innocent (or not so innocent) bystanders. The internet is impersonal. No one is held accountable. And – my personal favorite – pointing at the bad behavior of some public figure as justification.

Blah, blah, blah! Enough! I’ve heard all the excuses and I think it’s time we stopped making them. Excuses are easy. It’s time we take accountability – four ourselves, our actions, our words. It’s time to “choose kind.”

Next time you get angry at someone’s comment online, try this – imagine the person is someone you love and respect. How would you respond? Would you belittle or criticize them? Or would you try to talk, use your words to understand where they are coming from and why they feel that way? Would you say, “I may not like your politics but I love you”?

If you really can’t do that, try just scrolling past and saying nothing at all. That’s also an act of kindness. Hate is easy. Be brave, be different, choose love.

All are welcome to come join me in “Dee World” where the sun is always shining, the skies are blue and the outlook is rosy! https://www.facebook.com/groups/298123051407313

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