Every time I've poked around on Facebook the last few days, I come across something that turns my tummy over. I follow several news outlets, and there's always some kind of ugly/violent/shocking story happening in the world. But, that's actually not what's causing the tummy turning: it's the way we treat each other. Today I thought, "Why is 80% of my news feed so hooverdam NEGATIVE?" I scroll through it, enjoy the good parts here and there, and feel frankly exhausted by the rest of it.
Sometimes I wonder if people were mean before the Internet, or if the Internet made them mean. It's probably a mixture of both. Spiteful hearts have probably always existed, and spiteful moments have always happened to otherwise kind people, but now there's a platform to fuel and display it. It's like we live in this Lord of the Flies virtual vacuum when we get our Internet goggles on.
We have a problem.
We mock. Oh, how we mock each other.
We shame overweight people.
We shame thin people.
We shame women.
We shame men.
We shame women for shaming men who shame women who shame men who...what?
We shame people for being PEOPLE.
We make decisions about each other's worth/value/intelligence.
We get downright bossy.
We criticize each other's clothing.
We criticize each other's lack of clothing.
We question each other's beliefs/religion/integrity, like a) we know better, and b) it's any of our business.
We know best, right?
And on and on. (and on and on and on.) I look at that list and just came back to one conclusion: BULLY. We bully. We're a bunch of adults with a virtual playground and plenty of slides to push each other down and sand to throw.
I have my moments.
I definitely have my moments where I disagree with someone, or they post something that offends me and I want to write a snappy, scathing little comment. I'd be a self-righteous ninny if I didn't own up to that. And I've had my moments where I've hit publish. I've definitely done that. Other times, I pause and ask myself if I really feel like getting in a fight today....and I can usually hold my tongue. I'm trying to be better at doing more of the latter. Because let's be real...you can't win. I think I can safely say that even the scathiest of scathy scathing replies (yeah, made up some words there) probably won't suddenly enlighten your opponent's mind and convert them to your way of thinking. Ima go with "that actually never happens."
Why do we yell? Why do we nitpick, shame, mock, scrutinize, see-list-above? What do we get from that? A sense of satisfaction? Victory? The awesome feeling of having squished another human being to a pulp? Really, what is it? I mean, why does a playground bully push a kid down a slide or throw sand in the first place? Are we trying to prove something? Win something? Be in charge? Get noticed? Make up for lack of love elsewhere in our lives? Right some cosmic wrong the universe has wrought upon us by lashing out at each other? Are we just...bored enough to serve each other up on platters to fill the time?
Coming from a blogger standpoint, it would be the most amazing, liberating feeling to be able to publish something heartfelt and sincere without worrying about the potential onslaught of vicious and spiteful comments. It hurts my heart when I've seen that happen to other bloggers I care about (see: a weekly, sometimes daily, occurrence), and it puts a sour taste in my mouth when I think about some of the terrible ugly that's graced my own inbox. Gross.
I say, let's not be like that anymore.
Let's simply...be nice. Let's zip our lips, bite our tongues, open our hearts, ask ourselves if it's really worth it, and not hit publish the next time we feel like hurting someone else...even when we think they totally deserve it.
It's just that...there's so much good/positive/delightful in the world, why not share that instead? Or if we're going to post the heavy stuff, let it be to raise awareness of starving populations, genocide and child prostitution...not petty opinions of each other's lives or ugly jokes at each other's expense.
Next time we're tempted to throw sand, let's pause and choose kindness instead, you know? What can it hurt?