Ten years ago, I would have never imagined that some stranger would come up to me in a store and give me their verbal opinion about how what I am or am not doing is wrong — and be mean about it too. But now, I imagine it daily. Several times daily to be exact.
See, when the internet came up, we first had what was called bulletin boards — forums with but a select few members. These forums were highly selective, meaning you had to be polite to stay in one. Oh, and you wanted in one. It was these forums that told you the latest tech and where or how to get it.
Jump 30 years, and you have this thing called facebook. Now, facebook isn’t new to the field, there were others, myspace for example. You also have youtube. At first, these things were pretty harmless. And then the predators came.
Now, these predators are jerks. They don’t know you from Moses, but they feel they have the right to get on your facebook profile and comment on your posts.
This jerkiness is a disease, and it is highly contagious.
Years ago, my friends on facebook would have never commented on my posts, at least not harshly. They do now. Now everyone thinks they have the right to go up to people and say, “You’re wrong. Oh, and you can’t spell either.”
Allow me to inform you that you do not have that right. Would you, in your wildest imaginations, ever thought of yourself as someone who would go up to a stranger in a grocery store and say, “You shouldn’t buy those items for your child. Your child is only acting that way because you’re a terrible parent. You don’t eat enough and need to put on weight.” ??? Hmm? Would you?
If you can imagine yourself doing this, we cannot be friends. No, I’m serious. You’re a jerk, and I want nothing to do with you.
Friends I know to be good people, polite people, are now doing this on facebook, and what’s worse, it’s spreading into the outside world. Now you have jerks coming up to you outside of your home, outside of social media, and expressing their unasked for opinions.
OK, Miss Know-it-all, what are you suggesting?
Just this — If you wouldn’t do it in public to a stranger in the line at the bank, don’t do it online. If you were sitting at the lunch table at school, and you’re friend said something you disagreed with, and you wouldn’t immediately say, “I disagree with that, and here’s why”, then don’t comment on social media. In other words, treat online social settings as though they were real physical, face-to-face settings. Be … nice.
Yes, those other jerks will still be that, jerks. But you won’t. And maybe, just maybe, those of us who refuse to be impolite and rude to others may start a contagious trend. I doubt it too, but it’s worth a shot.
PS – For the record, I am far from guiltless is saying/posting things I should not have. But I am trying. Everyday I get a little better at being a better person. But I will never be perfect.