Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sticks and Stones and Words

Think before you speak.

Sometimes being a stay-at-home parent can have some unique challenges. Namely, isolation.

Yeah, we don't get out much.

I'm not a mini-van mom. Someday, maybe.

For now we are a one-car family. And my husband happens to need it to get to work.

So we stay home. A lot!

It's not that I don't love to go about and do things but it's really hard when the children are small and all in carseats. (We have to get up early to get everyone ready so we can drop Daddy off.)

The disadvantage is that I don't have a lot of adult contact. Except on social media. It is my lifeline at this stage of life.

So it hurts when sometimes online acquaintances, presumably, speak without thinking.

It hurts so much sometimes that I want to go hide in a corner and binge on chocolate chip cookies, dribbling tears and crumbs into my tall glass of milk.

Things you put out on the internet? They don't die off into the air like a hastily uttered joke that comes off wrong and makes you immediately apologize or at least qualify in the telltale uncomfortable silence that follows.

They are just there. For all to see! Even hitting the delete button doesn't happen fast enough sometimes.

Have you noticed?

Less and less are we actually interacting with our real life friends on facebook.

More and more I am seeing passive-aggressive memes or sarcastic comics. These are usually thinly veiled expressions of personal contempt for people, yes real people, friends even whose opinions, practices, grammar or spelling errors we disapprove of.

"It's all in good fun!" you might argue. But context is everything. If you're not in the same room, or eating at the same table, or moving in the same real world spheres, nobody can tell your tone or whether or not you are serious. (Usually, we are at least 51% serious or we'd ignore the urge to share.)

I realize nobody is perfect! I'm not saying let's never joke about ourselves and this crazy world.

I'm just asking that we consider the extent of our audience.

How many people are in your friends' list?

How many of them are mostly silent but still there, interested in your life and what you have to say?

Would you cut out that scathing postcard you're tempted to share and send it to everyone personally via snail mail?

If there's something that hits your funnybone but could be interpreted as offensive by your less than obviously close friends, consider posting it directly to a close friend's timeline rather than on your own. You can chuckle at it together and others are welcome to look on with the relief that there is no way it was meant for them personally.

I wish I had thought of all these things sooner. I still regret those times I made fun of a friend's spelling errors or other silly mistakes. The superior attitude didn't win me any social points. There's no intelligence god giving me a virtual high-five for my wit. Fortunately, forgiveness abounds among those I'm privileged to call friends and we can move on, I hope. If in the past I've hurt anyone reading this post, I am truly sorry.

I wish I was a better person. I wish I could promise never to belittle someone for not being as smart, funny, or witty as I like to suppose I am. (I will allow one appropriate eye-roll here.) But I know I'm human and we easily forget stuff. Even common courtesy. Hopefully this post will serve as a constant reminder to me, because kindness is important!

It's my hope that a growing awareness will enable us to avoid the temptation of social media bullying.

Because you just don't know how much you can hurt someone.

Think before you "post!"

6 comments:

  1. Great reminder, Jamie! We all need to remember there are real people reading what we post and some may not understand. I think it's a good idea to think about whether our post would be something we would personally send to everyone on our friend list and if not, then not post it. Or, as you suggested, post it only for those who will understand. But even then we should think about whether we are making fun of some person or group because really that isn't right either. I think we've all been guilty of that sort of thing sometimes, but I don't think it pleases God. I love you!

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  2. I love the sketch, it captures so much, and your words. I actually avoid facebook because of all the toxic derision and contempt that just take the wind outta my sails. I know what I've got to do before I die. I've got to do all in my power take down this wretched categorizing of human beings thing, this power over narrative that is so entrenched everywhere. And I've got to do it by building up those that have been put down, wherever, whomever they be. Teeth to the wind, I won't take anything less than radical equality. Sacred cows? Baby, we're havin' burgers tonight!

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    1. Haha, burgers. I love you Sara! You are fierce! (In a good way.) You remind me of Shane Claiborne in "Jesus for President."
      The sketch was kind of a self-portrait except the only thing I got right about the nose is that it's big, lol!

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  3. wise words. I've been guilty of posting without thinking. I'm probably going to delete my fb account in a few months. Every time I get on I come away feeling annoyed at someone for not parenting naturally, or sad from some shared story of a dying little one. I don't need all those bad vibes getting me down. I want to focus on my life that surrounds me. On building up and encouraging my kids, hubby, and friends.

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    1. Facebook doth lose its charm. I understand. I have to make myself stay off social media every weekend so I don't get depressed from information overload. You will have to share family pics with me still! Maybe on your blog?

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