Daily, venom spews from my screens. Well-written, logical, and thought-provoking ideas vanished, or are perhaps buried, replaced by fiery rhetoric. While valid issues justifiably evoke charged emotions, sentiments become markedly less respectful each day.
Obviously, to get others to agree with you, you should always yell through your keyboard. We know this is true, because yelling at those with different opinions always works in person as well. While social media allows you to attack people’s deep convictions out in the open with name-calling and half-baked arguments, real life isn’t so generous. At least it wasn’t before. Social media hasn’t been quite so aggressive before, so maybe the rules have simply changed.
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, I had a respectful conversation with someone who held views I didn’t share (at a photo shoot of all places). Obviously, I believe all people should be using Crest, and this fine fellow believes Colgate reigns superior. Regardless, we discussed this and other divisive issues like actual adults looking each other in the actual eyes. We conversed about unions, religion, and politics like civil people. We empathized with various points of view, and it was respectful.
A unicorn conversation.
Faith in humanity restored, I began to pay more attention to what bothers me online. Actual points of view are out, because the people I agree with are often the most infuriating. It’s not subject matter, because some people who post exclusively about polarizing issues do not come across vicious yet others can transform a trivial issue into a ultimatum for their respect. I narrowed it down.
It came down to two rules I made for myself.
Two Social Media Rules
1- If I wouldn’t say this exact thing to my friends, parents, grandparents, young nephew, a random mutual friend, and complete strangers, it should not be posted.
2- If I wouldn’t say this exact thing to YOUR friends, parents, grandparents, young nephew, a random mutual friend, and complete strangers, it should not be posted.
Yes, online presence can be used to drive change. We need to recall however, real people sit in front of the other venom-spewing screen. People, who deserve respect see what you and I write. Ten year old and one-hundred year olds alike read your words. My words.
If you feel strongly about something, discuss it. By “discuss,” I do not people re-post scathing articles and name-call online. I mean have a respectful, real life conversation over coffee with someone. I’d love to chat. But, please, consider if you actually want a young child or respected elder to have to navigate through your sentiment.
Consider what example you are setting.
PS. In reality, we are a Colgate couple all the way.
Danielle Geri Long
Selected top Minneapolis newborn photographers, Danielle provides award-winning lifestyle photography, photographing stories throughout Minnesota. Danielle often longs for the loveliness of the Twin Cities, while savoring country life just outside Buffalo, MN. Specializing in newborn and family photography, she adores watching families grow. Danielle and her husband are raising two delightful kids and attempting to reign in frequent over-committing, so they can do important things (like see each other and watch Netflix). Danielle travels to Annandale, Minneapolis, St. Cloud, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Andover, Buffalo, Monticello, and more. Contact her today at 763-670-7657.