It’s a new year, and you may be making resolutions to improve your self/life in 2018. If you’re struggling with an idea, I can help you out- and the good news is, it’s actually really easy to do!
Here it is: Be a little nicer online.
It may sound totally simple, but hey, there’s always room for improvement. After all, we aren’t all at Thumper’s level of self-editing, myself included:
The internet has become a pretty open arena for sharing experiences and opinions, especially social media. It’s also become fairly common for people to put each other down (okay, that’s probably a euphemism).
Without getting sucked into a conversation about online shaming (which these days is less of a blog post and more of a book), smaller scale shaming like a comment on a Facebook post can still be really hurtful. In honor of the new year, here are some ideas for being nice(r) online:
Before you comment, realize that you may not have all the context. When I was pregnant, I had someone comment on a photo of me on a hike that I was reckless/careless to do something like that by myself (paraphrasing). I instantly felt ashamed of something I’d formerly been proud of- I took the picture down and didn’t post any of my hikes for the rest of the summer (note: my response is on me, not the commenter). Here’s the thing: this person (and everyone else who saw the picture) didn’t have the full context- I was actually not alone on the hike. The person I was with is much more private and I was simply being respectful of his desire not to be on Facebook, so I just shared a picture of myself. Which brings me to the next point…
Be respectful of others “space.” Nicole talked about the questions she asks herself before posting something online in a blog post “Manners on the Move.” One of her “rules” is not tagging photos or checking in somewhere without a person’s consent. Everyone has their own gut checks for social media, which is fine, just remember to be respectful of how others choose to be present online. It’s easy to ask for permission if you’re going to write about someone on a Facebook post, even if they don’t have Facebook. Recently someone wrote a post about my 80 year old grandmother on Facebook, and she found out through one of us grandkids. It wasn’t negative, but she wasn’t really thrilled about being written about by a close friend of hers without knowing about it.
In the below Instagram post, Whole-30 founder Melissa Hartwig explains her personal metrics for sharing on her personal social media accounts: “Does it feel gross?” We all have our own views on what feels “gross” to post, so it’s a fairly universal metric.
Think of ways to be helpful instead. One example I can think of is mom’s shaming other moms on baby/kid pictures. Unless someone is clearly putting their child in danger, it’s probably more helpful to keep opinions to yourself. If you want to be helpful to say, a mom who is maybe a little off in how she straps her kid in a car seat, consider sending a private message that offers actual helpful tips for correct practices. Commenting with a threat to call DHHS and have the child taken away, for example, is pretty unhelpful (and yes, this is an example I have actually seen).
Quietly remove yourself from negativity. Let’s face it, we all have a friend or two on Facebook that is a total negative Nancy. You are only ever in control of your own actions and responses, so if there’s a person or group online that rubs you the wrong way, you can always remove their stories from your newsfeed. It’s basically just passive resistance- instead of getting involved in a back and forth on social media, it’s like just quietly receding into the background.
Overall, I think the world, online and off, could benefit from trying to understand each other before jumping to judgments. While Facebook and other social networks allow us to connect in a more widespread way, sometimes we lose sight of what it means to connect in a meaningful, kind way.