It is appalling at times, really it is. I’ve done a better job of staying away from social media on the whole since detoxing a couple of weeks ago, but man oh man the comment threads on there are nothing short of astounding. In a bad way. It’s nothing new either sadly.
Honestly, you would think that at a time such as now when we should be coming together as a whole, people might think twice about what they say to one another; that these pandemic times would have brought about more kindness and compassion knowing that none of us are invincible. Instead, it appears that common decency and respect would be a tall order in some cases. Of course, the past few months have been very stressful on many and current circumstances surrounding the coronavirus and politics have brought about a lot of divisiveness as a result, but the nastiness directed at ordinary everyday people?! Totally and completely unnecessary. If you really must say something or have a differing viewpoint, can you not just state your piece in a reasonable way and agree to disagree, if necessary? I’m not sure that berating others will achieve a whole lot in the overall scheme of things, even if they are so-called ‘deserving’. It might feel good to unload at the time, but what light does it shed unto you? Chances are that your choice of words might very well put you into the same category as the person you intend your comments for. Then what has been accomplished?
Some (and it is some, not everyone obviously) people’s so-called comments which I’ve witnessed aren’t fit for sharing in any kind of forum if you ask me, never mind the fact that once shared on the internet, they are there to stay forever and ever amen, name attached. Look at how many celebrities and power figures have had ‘dirt’ dug up on them from years, even decades ago, taken straight from their personal accounts. At the end of the day, thoughts similar to the ones I’ve seen are better kept to yourself. I mean, it’s perfectly fine to have whatever kind of thoughts or feelings you want; in fact you are entitled to them, but they don’t always need to be verbalized. Remember the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say….”? Well, maybe we would benefit from trying to transfer what I would consider old words of wisdom into our new-age ways of doing things. Isn’t at least part of the reason that we are here intended for us to learn from the past and do our best to improve upon things for the coming times? I kind of thought that that was the idea anyway. That generation by generation, mankind/womankind alike would work collectively toward building a stronger, brighter future for all. Maybe I’m wrong, though.
So, what is it exactly that is contributing to the upward trend in social media bullying amongst adults? Well, I believe it is that we’ve lost a sense of pride and integrity in who we are, who we represent, as both individuals and from within our family units. At one time, where I’m from here in Canada anyway, you were expected to behave in good standing or you would bring shame upon yourself and ultimately your elders, so to speak–an absolute no-no! If you look at native peoples of the past, for instance, there were certain principles that they followed, that they stood for culturally-speaking and you dared not go against them or there was a price to pay. Unfortunately, in some of those cases, the repercussions for wrongdoings were severe, even dire and still are to this day, which is where the ‘learning from piece’ is supposed to fit into the whole picture. In my own family unit (notice that I said unit, as in ‘it’s not all about me’), it was instilled in us from a very early age that we had a last name and a reputation to protect and all of us had to work together to make sure that that name stood for something important, something sacred, something good. Making mistakes were inevitable, even expected and obviously a perfectly normal part of growing up, but when our actions caused ‘disappointment’ to our parents, we not only knew it, we felt it and we intrinsically wanted to do better. While my two brothers and I didn’t always agree with my parents’ philosophies about things, we knew that there was value in what my parents were trying to teach us because they placed value on us having values.
So, why aren’t WE as a whole doing better then as grown adults knowing that many of us had a similar upbringing? I think we are getting lazy and more and more self-centered if you want the truth. I know that may sound harsh, but often truths are tough to hear and even tougher to acknowledge and move past. I say enough of trying to place the blame outwardly so that you don’t have to own anything personally. No one else is responsible for your words or actions except for you. Ever. I don’t care who did what to you. My childhood was not all roses and sunshine I can assure you of that, yet my woes are not a compelling argument in my going around and belittling perfect strangers because I dislike something that they have said or done. Everyone of us has a past. Everyone has had traumatic events happen to them. Everyone carries some of those demons forward, but it’s no excuse to lash out at others. If YOU have inadequacies and unresolved issues, deal with them–don’t put them on others. The rest of us have enough of our own ‘stuff’ to sort through. In fact, you’d think one would be more compassionate in knowing someone else might be struggling as well.
Let’s be clear on something first. I have absolutely NO problem whatsoever when an idea or a concept or a policy or a news article or a situation elicits anger from within or a difference of opinions; lately, a lot of our government decisions have me fired up too–more than I’d like to admit actually. In fact, don’t get me started on that topic. And, there are definitely times when I don’t like what someone stands for or how they conduct themselves, as in the case of this blogpost today. But here’s the thing, when we are passionate about something, be it good or bad, it can be the caveat needed to spur us into action in an effort to try to change the things that we feel are unfair or unjust in our eyes and that’s great. Really great!!! What I am NOT okay with is when one’s words are directed at someone in particular in a hateful and malicious manner wherein clearly the sole intention is to attack versus create a thoughtful, meaningful rebuttal. Surely by this point in time, we have more effective ways to express our dissatisfaction with someone or something than to lambaste them/it publicly for all to see. Turn on the TV at any given moment and I guarantee you that you will find a program (if not many) that will reflect how ridiculous it looks when people get caught up in child-like exchanges for all to witness.
Have you ever watched a public debate between candidates or a government house meeting of sorts (I bet dollars to doughnuts you have) and seen the way they belittle each other–the name-calling, the shouting, the banging of their fists, the “Your mama is a …. ” kind of exchanges? It’s outright embarrassing to watch so-called adults act like that at any given time, never mind the God awful reality that these folks are the very same individuals who think that they are worthy of representing the rest of us in key decision-making processes? I literally cringe when I see those kinds of ‘debates’. I have to turn the channel. I just can’t be privy to any of it, and I surely wouldn’t allow my child to watch such a thing unless I somehow thought it would be useful to show them what NOT to do, though it is more wise to teach them what TO do.
Change doesn’t come from screaming and pouting until you ‘get your way’. Well, not good kinds of changes anyway….something our leaders could and should certainly make more of a note of, but hey, it begins with those of us who vote them in, right? Instead, we are more likely to find resolution to the matters at hand when we aim to problem-solve (productively) versus complain or simply air our grievances. Not everything in life is roses and piñatas, and it’s okay to voice your stance, but there should be a general awareness or some forethought put into how to do that in a reasonable fashion. In other words, think before you speak or rather hit ‘send’. Over the years I’ve been known to say, “You are allowed to think whatever you like, in fact, I encourage it; however when those thoughts come out of your mouth, you are responsible for them.” You and only you. Therefore, you are subject to whatever consequences result from your choosing to share your thoughts aloud. Nowadays especially, it is important to realize that those very consequences may come years from now, often when we least expect it yet we will still have to answer for them. Our own children might even call into question our thoughts or actions, as they strive to be the generation that knows and does better.
What’s needed going forward the way I see it, as discussed earlier, is a personal sense of integrity which seems to be missing from some people’s repertoire. Think: What is it that you wish to stand for? How do you want to be thought of? How do you want your name, your family title, to be remembered after you are gone? What do you want your children/grandchildren or other relatives to say about you? These are the things that we all should be thinking about when we choose to publicly open our mouths or hit the infamous and anonymous ‘send’ button. And no, hiding behind the mask of social media is not okay; you are still responsible for what you say. I often wonder if people would have the courage to say in person what they type on screen and while I’m guessing that many of them would try to save face by saying that that they would, it simply isn’t true. And if it is true, then sadly, I would hazard a guess that violence would play a role in the exchange. Recent examples of demonstrations in the United States come to mind unfortunately. As per numerous examples in history, violence does NOT solve issues. There are ways to respectfully disagree or demonstrate without causing ill will/harm to others, both physically and verbally–enter social media comments/platforms.
After all of this rambling on, I guess what I am really trying to say is that we are overdue to go back to our roots wherein personal integrity meant something, stood for something. I might even go so far as to say that it would be nice to live in a time when one’s words were golden, where we lived by the golden rule, “Do unto others…”. Really, truly lived by it as best as we could knowing that we won’t always do things perfectly the first time, but that we would constantly be looking to improve upon ourselves and our ways of doing things. Imagine a world wherein you not only felt, but WERE respected by others. Not because you needed their approval, but because it was important to you to keep your namesake in good stead. Where people actually listened to what you had to say, agreed or disagreed, but knew that when you spoke, you spoke with purpose, that what you said had value and that there was a mutual respect for one another as fellow human beings, even if there were no other common ground. Again, I am talking about how average, everyday people treat one another–not those individuals in society who have deep-rooted psychological issues and require professional help. The rest of us should know and act better if for no other reason than to know that younger people are looking up to us to set an example. Let’s leave the unnecessary name-calling and such to government people who appear to like looking foolish. Some day, that younger generation following us will become leaders and hopefully they will know and do better in their roles because WE did better. #ifyoudon’thaveanythingnicetosay…
9 thoughts on “The Golden Rule in a Not-So Golden World”
A lot of excellent thoughts here! I may even quote you, if it’s all right?
Sadly, not listening to others starts when children are young. Parents have been told repeatedly that it’s wrong to curb your children’s need to express themselves. One day I was working in a cafe when a mom came in with a toddler. A friend was there, who quickly invited this mom to join her for coffee. She asked her little girl if they could stay, but the toddler wouldn’t allow it. The mom bribed, coaxed and pleaded but the toddler was adamant: “No-o-o! I want to go home.”
So home they went, leaving me to put away the products I’d gotten out for them, and to picture this child as a teenager.
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I would agree that many children are raised with much different expectations these days…. we live in a different world, which should reflect improvements. Not always so.
Yes, please quote away. Thanks for asking!
I’ve noticed on the comments sections of news articles that if people are allowed to use fictional “handles” the discussion descends rapidly into rabid attacks. There are no consequences.
But, people are identified on FaceBook, and also seem to have no qualms about ripping, slicing and shredding indiscriminately. As a result I’ve really throttled back my activity on those platforms. Peoples minds are already made up, and they are just looking to let it all hangout.
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Definitely some people have nothing better to do than to simply try to engage others in their shenanigans. Best not to go there at all, as you say.
I agree with you that there’s really work to do on our younger generation because that the only way forward.
Tnk you for the beautiful piece
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Thanks for tuning in… I appreciate your comment. 🙂
Yes, I have also been feeling the need to step back from social media, specifically Twitter. There is very little civility – only hate for someone who has a different point of view. Retribution is swift and vile. There is no more middle ground. I find that depressing. What happened to “the truth lies somewhere in the middle?” or “there are two sides to every story?” Nope. Not anymore. You have so much to say here and you say it better than I ever could. 🙂 Thank you.
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Thank you for reading this piece…. it’s been on my mind for awhile. Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked by what I see, but I am. It just seems beneath us all. However, I guess there are those folks who have neither the patience or desire to hear someone other than themselves. Not my cup of tea!
I appreciate your comment.
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