Social media can make us feel like we’re not really connected to those with whom we interact. Faceless. Safe and protected by our anonymity. As though we’re not really having an impact.
In reality, the OPPOSITE is true.
Our words posted on Facebook, and other online mediums, have a real impact. One that is deeply felt.
On a daily basis (Hi, I’m Heidi and I’m a social-media junky), I laugh deeply from a shared memory, shed tears for a friend’s suffering, and mull over new thoughts and points of view. All from online posts.
I’ll let you in on a secret…I have online FRIENDS with whom I laugh, cry, identify, and yep, love. And this summer, I’ve made plans with two of them to get together and deepen our friendships. Offline.
We’ve ONLY ever met online. Facebook. Isn’t that great?!
In fact, I am writing this, squinting through swollen eyes, having spent the last two hours SOBBING over the posts on Chasing Rainbows (and using some ‘colorful’ language as I rant my confusion, anger, and questions to Dreamboat), in response to five-year-old Gavin’s death. He died two weeks ago, today. On his mama’s birthday. His short life has changed me. Profoundly. Forever. And I’ve never met him or his family, face-to-face.
And, similarly to me, there are lots of others who feel deeply the comments made from those known, and unknown, behind a screen. There’s data–We’ve seen the reports of so many teenagers who’ve committed suicide, the world over, as a direct result.
Our words hold power. Just like our actions, they hold consequences.
And in the last few days, with the topics of marriage equality and the resulting votes in Britain and the US, the Gosnell trial, gun control, Boston bombings, and other hot-button topics, I’ve seen some posts that hurt.
They cross the line. Even beyond bullying. They’re hate-filled.
All of these are from friends. Facebook friends, yes. But, all of these are real people whom I know. And whom I love.
Shame on you.
Currently, none of my three kids have social media accounts. But, they’re clamoring for them, and the day is soon approaching when Dreamboat and I will cave. And, I’d like to think I would encourage them to deny strangers access to their profiles, and instead, to ‘friend’ my friends on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
That means you.
The people I’ve known and loved and welcomed into my life. And, who’ve written disrespectful, hateful, posts about others. This week.
I know that none of you would say those things TO me. Or TO anyone. TO their face. Things that filled my feed this week, like:
“Well professor dumbass.”
“Why don’t you shut your pie hole?”
“stupid, muslim, president.”
Shame on you.
Especially if you consider yourself a follower of Christ. Or Allah. Or Buddha (you atheists get a pass on this one). Whose example are you following? What kind of an example are you setting? For your kids? Or grandkids? Or me (obviously I’m still very impressionable)? or MY kids?
Where’s the integrity?
Now, I know that some of you are truly brilliant. Off-the-charts-smart. And that being witty, comes easily and naturally to you (which makes me a teensy bit jealous). And that sometime (ok, maybe OFTEN) witty can be catty. And petty. And your minds are filled with witticisms that take the ‘bad guys’ down a notch. And you deliver a good laugh.
And I understand and truly love a good laugh. In fact, my grandpa, never met a driver who wasn’t an “IDIOT”, which brought all of his kids and grandkids oodles of laughs over the years. And, compared to his incredible driving skill, he might be right. But, he’s never yet posted that opinion online. (Please forgive me grandpa, for posting it now).
But, I want to challenge you to save laughs and slurs for drinks with friends (who hopefully will not remember it the next morning. Or, more importantly, will NOT broadcast, it with your name attached. For eternity.)
Or, even better, don’t say it at all.
And don’t EVER write it.
Instead, take the time to first be self-deprecating. And second, be funny, to make your point.
OR. DON’T. WRITE. ANYTHING.
And, definitely don’t forward anything. Or ‘like’ anything.
Until you think about my ten-year-old daughter sitting in front of you and asking if that’s “how we’re supposed to treat people?”
Remember your mother’s advice; “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?”
I’m not saying don’t post opinions. God knows I love and learn from the thoughts, across a wide spectrum, of my varied friends. I like that. I learn from that. It enriches my life.
I need each and every one of you.
But, just because you feel a certain way today, doesn’t mean you’re RIGHT.
And, doesn’t mean you’re smarter and better than someone who feels differently. (OK. Honestly, some of you really are smarter. But, that’s NOT equivalent to ‘better’ or ‘right’!). And, no matter what you think, God hasn’t given you more insights than anyone else here on earth.
In my opinion, politics is a journey. (And should be a personal one.) Where I stood ten years ago is different from where I stand today, and probably very different from where I’ll stand ten years from now.
And when you belittle others, regardless of whether or not I (or others) agree they’re wrong, and act as though they are not as good as you, it backfires. My opinion of YOU, and respect for YOU, diminishes.
Now, obviously, we all know I’m not very important. But, the same rule applies to all your friends and acquaintances. When you are hateful, and belittle others, everyone’s perception of you shrinks. You become small.
So, let’s learn from the bullying we’ve seen (and COUNTLESS supporting scripture), and chose to use our words to build people up. Not tear them down.
I don’t really care whether you support the current US President, UK Prime Minister, King of Jordan, (although who can find fault with amazing Queen Rania?), or whomever is in power in your country. Truly, I don’t care. But I do care that you give them the respect they deserve. No matter what you think of their politics, OR their personal life, they are human.
And, not you, nor I, are a better human than they are.
And until we have been President, or PM, or King, none of us know or understand the scope of the misrepresentation by the media, or the depth of the pressures they face. And, when you or I have been PM (or other head-of-state), if we still feel that the current administration in our country is filled with incompetent buffoons, then we may say so. PRIVATELY. To their face.
If you’re unable, or unwilling (please don’t), to refrain from the offensive, public, belittling of others, whom I think you should probably stop and pray for, then be warned that I begin to see you as a three-inch bobble head on my desk. (Like the one I have of President Obama, bought as a quirky memento from a visit to Washington DC. Whenever our more conservative family visit, we put it on their bedside table. Because we’re thoughtful.)
You begin to resemble a talking head for one of the politically-funded-commercials that may, or may not, have checked their facts. But, intended to emotionally sway the opposition. (THAT I IGNORE.)
When in fact, you cause others to…Lose. Faith. In. YOU.
And, when Dreamboat and I do cave, and allow Miss O, and then my sweet and innocent G-man, to get Facebook accounts, I’ll first have to unfriend YOU.
How’s that for an opinion? Hope it made a point, but was still respectful