Am I alone in noticing a disturbing trend in the manner in which people are communicating these days on social media? Or has it been happening for a while now and I have been slow to notice? It seems that people are forgetting the basic manners they should have learned in early childhood. Are we allowing ourselves to hide behind our keyboards, spewing rudeness disguised as knowledge?
I am referring to recent posts I have seen on Facebook as this is my most used of the social media outlets. Over the past several months I have found that my News Feed has been full of more negative than positive posts. I alleviated part of the problem by unfollowing any political pages, pages where supporters of all parties act like schoolyard bullies when any dare to disagree with their viewpoints. I was still left with daily status updates from friends covering topics ranging from police shootings, domestic abuse policies in the NFL, and how to handle the ISIS crisis to name a few. Here I must admit in favor of full disclosure that I myself posted two updates with my feelings concerning police officers but refusing to discuss specific events. I am not saying that I believe anyone should be censored from posting whatever status update they choose. My issue comes into play in how people are responding to said posts. It is more in the subsequent comments on these posts and the nastiness of them.
Is the idea of having a friends list on Facebook not to have people on your list who are actually friends? Or at the least someone you have some degree of appreciation and respect for? Has friend become a relative definition subject to interpretation? Can we not disagree, dissent, or have a debate without disdain and disrespect? If you are commenting on a thread then you need to remember that you are, allegedly, a friend to this person…or that you are at the least responding to a mutual friend of your friend. I think before people type they should stop and ask themselves, “Is this what I would say if this person was sitting face-to-face with me? Or might I choose my words more carefully?” I’m all for open discussion, but it can be done minus the sanctimony and plain rudeness. Believe me, I am at times more than tempted to jump into the fray. My hands frequently hover over the keyboard, twitching in anticipation of virtually slapping someone into place after they have responded condescendingly to another. I am learning to breathe deeply and walk away for a while. I am learning to instead type a polite response advocating the right to agree politely to disagree.
I’m trying to do my part to start a movement toward a return to kindness in social media interaction. I hope others will join me in remembering that we are discoursing not with machines, laptop-to-laptop or tablet-to-tablet, but that we are having discussions with the people behind the screens.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic, and thank you for listening to what is on my mind this morning!