How many times have you scrolled through a social media thread and thought, “What utter bollocks?” We all have, right? There’s so much tripe in all of our news feeds it’s hard not to be encounter a good portion of the fishy stuff. But did you roll your eyes and scroll on, or did you feel so impassioned that you simply HAD to comment?
It’s likely that the majority of us have engaged in a debate, shared an opinion or offered advice (solicited or not) on the internet, and especially in Facebook Groups. If not an active commenter, we have all seen how these threads can go from calm and rational to rabid and vitriolic in seconds.
This week, writer, producer, actress and comedian Sarah Silverman reacted with pure and simple kindness when a Twitter user called her the ‘C’ word. Instead of seeing red and getting into a war of words, Silverman responded with:
““I believe in you. I read ur timeline & I see what ur doing & your rage is thinly veiled pain. But u know that. I know this feeling. Ps My back f***ing sux too. See what happens when u choose love. I see it in you.”
What a woman! What a response. This story stuck with me all day. After this comment, Silverman not only continued the conversation, she also appealed to her 12 million followers for medical aid for the commenter, and offered to pay for his treatment. In my opinion, this is not only admirable but also downright inspirational.
When I became a Mum, I joined shitloads of Mummy Facebook groups. Some of these groups were great resources for offloading the endless baby crap I collected in the early days, and some were the reason I obtained it in the first place. In the main, these groups offered support and a forum for discussion to thousands of Mums like me.
Shy at first, I mainly read threads with interest and liked the odd picture here and there. Until one day I got involved in a debate about sleep. That old chestnut. The irony being all of those discussing sleep probably hadn’t indulged in it for days. What started as a healthy discussion ended in a war of words that became personal, highly irrational and poisonous.
Woah. I was shocked! I thought these groups were a resource for support, not a tool to beat people down about their choices if they differ from yours?
Since then, I haven’t engaged in any discussions that are contentious, as quite frankly I have a hard enough time of it holding my shit together at home, breaking up arguments about who is the best Go Jetter (Ubercorn, obvs).
Also, surely if someone says something horrible in these support groups, surely they’re a cockwomble and do not deserve engagement, acknowledgement or any kind of response?
Not according to Silverman. If you use her kindness model, these “keyboard warriors” have joined these groups for support and for whatever reason, have decided to pour scorn on someone for reasons that are not immediately obvious.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending everyone who has said something awful. Just the sight of Katie Hopkins raises my heckles. Racism, sexism, bigotry, misogyny all have no place in society, on the internet and on these threads. Neither does threatening behaviour. With no exceptions.
The negative Nancy’s and Norman’s I’m referring to are the ones who counter argue every little point. The ones who offer advice instead of answering the question. The ones who spark a debate by going spectacularly off-piste. Scrolling on doesn’t appear to be an option to these commenters, and the threads plummet south quicker than an Olympic skier.
So in these parenting groups, why are we so quick to show our disdain for people we have never met, who are just trying to get through this overgrown forest of parenting with few trips and scrapes? It’s pretty obvious why debates get so heated, if we’re talking about our roles as parents or our children then we react with understandable passion.
But what if we stopped tearing each other down? What if we simply accepted that we are all different and just trying our best. We are all just parents.
If we looked on others with kindness first, surely we would cultivate a better online community? Sound tricky? Because it isn’t. It’s super simple. Just. Be. Kind.
You don’t know what kind of day someone is having and you can’t see how much they’re hurting. If you don’t like what someone has to say or disagree, don’t engage. If you have something positive and helpful to say, comment. But always, whatever action you take, be kind.
Simple. Here is a handy guide below. If you like it, be inspired by it. If you don’t, no need to comment. Just scroll on. 😉
You get the point. We’re here for you.