I love social media. It brings the giant world just a little closer. You can end up with friends from all over the world. The support system that can develop is amazing. I have found some of the greatest advocates and cheerleaders. We reach out to each other and check on each other. If we are having a bad day or struggling we listen and virtual “hug it out”.
Yet at the same time there is an epidemic hiding within that community. They are like little parasites that thrive on drama. They take everything you say and turn it around to be negative. They make you feel like you have to be cautious about everything you say around them. They talk negatively behind your back. And sometimes they will even cause issues right in front of you.
They hide behind their keyboards. They cyber bully those that they can. Those that they can’t they trash talk until they convince enough people how “horrible” you really are. Yet, if you think it’s limited to kids and teens, I hate to have to burst your bubble and tell you otherwise. In fact, I think some of the worst offenders are grownups who should know better. And sometimes it’s even directed at kids from adults.
Regardless, in our society, it’s convenient to hide behind our computer screens. We’ve lost our connection with manners and figure that since we don’t know these other people in our real day to day lives, we can say and do what we want and there are no repercussions. At least, none that we can see. Yet there are consequences for our actions, even if we don’t see them.
I’ve also heard excuses from behaviors. Things from, “I didn’t realize it would offend you.” or “Well, I can’t help it. I’m (insert disability of your choice).” Let’s be honest. If you didn’t think it would offend me and we get into a heated discussion and I tell you “I’m offended/hurt/saddened” by your statement, you have a red flag waving right there going “don’t go there”.
And the one that ticks me off more is someone trying to excuse bad manners or behaviors because of a disability. Em has trouble with social cues. That’s part of the reason she doesn’t have her own Facebook page. If she is on ours, she is supervised. Also, if she exhibits bad manners, she is allowed to say “I’m sorry. I have autism. I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” She also realizes, it’s not a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. There will be consequences for her behavior. Explanation, yes. Excuse, oh heck no.
If people can’t use manners online, they shouldn’t be there. If they are out to cause drama and hurt people, I don’t want to associate with them or have my family or friends associate with them. As in real life, kindness and manners will earn you more respect than becoming a social bully. No one wants to walk on eggshells on their own pages, blogs, twitter accounts, instagrams, or any other form of social media you can think of.
Imagine how much good social media could be if everyone just used some kind words, manners, and put away the drama. Set the popcorn down, step away from the screen, and find a movie to watch. Don’t make someone else a victim. It just isn’t worth it. Spread the love around instead.
Great, I sound like my mother’s hippie generation: Make Love, Not (Cyber) War. I’m just saying though, if we expect the generations of our future to be bigger and greater, we have to set an example. That example is to revert to the manners of our youth. Pleases and thank yous. Apologies and respect. And have civil conversations when you disagree. Sometimes taking it private instead of the whole world to see.
Social Media has a place. Cyber Bullying does not.