I’ll admit it—I love Facebook. I like being able to keep in touch with friends from far away, and I enjoy the intellectual discussions that occur in many of the comment threads. I even love all the cute cat pictures—what’s not to love about cute cat pictures? What I don’t love is the unkindness that filters in to so many of the posts and discussions. It hampers my pursuit of joy.
This is a common problem on the internet. If you read any online news story you’ll often see vicious remarks below the story itself. People say some of the most awful things behind the cloak of anonymity, but on Facebook, everyone is posting under their own account. It still happens. It always surprises me that the same people who preach love and tolerance will post terribly hateful things.
I could give you many examples, but I’m sure you’ve seen this yourself. What I’d rather give you is a solution—a very simple one. I think we should all refer back to the Golden Rule, and treat others as we would wish to be treated. Disagree and have discussion, but do so kindly and without malice. We only hurt ourselves when we indulge in mean behavior or making sweeping generalizations about people.
Sometimes even this is not enough. I try to follow this rule when I post, and I’m sure I’m not perfect, but I find that I often encounter deep veins of negativity amongst some people who post to Facebook. For example, I am very frustrated with people who post that all people who are religious are unthinking idiots. I know a lot of people have had negative experiences with religion—I certainly have and so I’ve chosen what to believe very carefully, as have others. You can disagree with the policies of a religion without mocking a whole belief system. Let’s all listen to Aretha Franklin, and show everyone some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Not everyone will. I feel like I’m better off knowing that certain people make hateful comments on a regular basis, because I don’t want those people in my life, virtual or otherwise. I was concerned about deleting these people from my page, but I have a very good friend who makes an excellent point—no one deserves to be your friend. Friendship should come from mutual respect and trust. If it isn’t there, delete delete delete! You can’t control others, but you can control what you see and expose yourself to. I’m feeling a lot better already.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
238. Are toxic people draining your energy? What can you do to limit your exposure? Also, take a few minutes to consider your own behavior—do you follow the Golden Rule? We all have times when our own experiences bias us. If this topic really interests you, you may also want to read the excellent book Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct by P.M. Forni.