Twitter. Facebook. Reddit. Comments sections of blogs and newspapers.
These days, we have many conversations, PSAs, and school conversations about online bullying. Students can abuse their friends and classmates so much more quickly — and often anonymously — with various technological tools at hand. And let’s face it, it is so much easier to type angry, hateful or abusive words when all we are looking at is a screen.
Just as prevalent, and perhaps even more damaging, is the behavior of adults.
While we have some leadership at the top setting bad examples, it doesn’t excuse us criticizing, hurting or casting aspersions on one another via social media or online commenting.
A good rule of thumb is to ask ourselves if we would say these things to the person’s face. If yes, then go ahead. If not — why not?
We are all stressed out and dealing with our own burdens, obligations, job pressures and endless to-do lists.
We are all in this together. If we remember that the stress we are feeling is likely what others are also feeling, we’re more likely to see things from each other’s point of view.
Keeping thoughts in the bubble over our heads isn’t always the worst idea.
Sometimes, being kind is more important than being right.
Sometimes, rising above rather than getting into the dirt is a better choice.
Each and every time, asking ourselves how we would feel if someone said the same thing to us is a good test.
Negative comments aren’t weightless. They don’t evaporate and float away. They dig in roots that grow in the hearts of the target of our barbs and others’ minds who read them.
This isn’t to say some people aren’t just bad people. There are certainly some who enjoy making other people feel bad. There are people who enjoy mean-spirited criticizing others in front of an audience. There are some people who feel by emotionally wounding another, they are winning some match in the game of life. There are some whose goal is only to make someone look as bad as possible for their own misguided goals and ever-starving ambition. Those are the people, when identified, who are best not to engage with.
We are all — almost of all of us — doing our best to get through each and every day. We are all trying to make and leave the world a better place through our contributions to it.
But this only works if we do it together.