The social web can be an angry and ugly place sometimes. Trolls aside, every week it seems there is a new issue for people to kvetch about or argue over – from Gabby Douglas’s hair to Chick-Fil-A to the continued heated rhetoric over the upcoming election.
Scott Monty recently wrote about the phenomenon, imploring people to remember the old adage that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” And Frank Eliason took this one step further, suggesting that we use today, August 14 to be #PositivelySocial, and take care to express even our strongest opinions in a way that is respectful.
Both are excellent suggestions. Our digital discourse is often brutish, and it would be nice if we all could try harder to improve the tenor and tone. But the reality, I fear, is that, beyond a day of observation, we will not.
So what if we set a smaller goal for ourselves?
What if, for today, we try to be more #PositivelySocial, but recognize that the real work will come tomorrow, when our cease-fire has ended?
What if, instead of agreeing to be more positive, we simply agree to stop and think?
…About our relationships with the media.
The media get their news from the social web just like the rest of us. So, when we add fuel to a drama fire, we are sending up a flag that says, “Pay attention to this!” And when the media responds, and covers the salacious, the petty and the callous, and we read that coverage, we send an additional message that says, “Thank you! Keep the dirt coming.”
…About our relationships with our children.
When adults treat each other with open disdain for their opinions and individuality, it sends a message to the kids who are steeped in the same dirty digital waters. It’s not surprising that cyber bulling is a very real and very dangerous threat to our children’s well-being. On one hand, we tell children that “It gets better,” but on the other, we demonstrate that adults still default to acting like middle school students when we’re upset.
…About our relationships with ourselves.
Not to be morbid, but we are all going to die. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe 20 years from tomorrow. The point is, time is running out and none of us knows how much we have left. So, when we spend more of that time arguing about our passions than actually living and pursuing them, we’re wasting a precious gift.
…About our future beyond this day.
No one’s suggesting that we won’t continue to disagree, complain or criticize. Just that we take a moment to think about the weapons with which we arm ourselves when we do.
Yes, the social web can be an angry and ugly place sometimes. But that doesn’t mean we have to be angry and ugly too.