I had another bad Facebook experience. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but I always am. I made a mistake, so it was right for people to tell me that I’d done something wrong so I could fix it. But surely they could have done so in a respectful and helpful way. Did they really have to call me every insulting name they could think of?
My friends have reminded me that online, people feel free to behave as badly as they like. The internet, which is supposed to be connecting the world, also acts as a barrier. We can hide behind it, out of sight from others, taking advantage of the fact that most of the people we interact with online are actually complete and utter strangers that we’ve never met. If someone does something irritating, we can vent our frustrations without cost to ourselves.
But losing our civility does cost us. It teaches us to be disrespectful of other people, even though they have a right to their opinions, ideals, and even their mistakes. It makes it easier to misunderstand, label, and hate others.
We’re all human here, all fallible, all opinionated, all flawed. No one’s perfect.
When we get flamed, we have to deal with the aftermath. It’s not personal so theoretically it shouldn’t affect us, but it does. Any words that resonate with our own fears about ourselves get engrained in our minds and stay with us long after the flamer has forgotten we exist.
I’m embarrassed to admit that this event has affected me for two weeks now, making it difficult for me to keep up with the blog. I hesitate to look at Facebook, even though some of the bird and fan groups I follow there are wonderful. I’m post-flame internet-shy, afraid to even open my browser.
Trying to find the courage to post something today, I came across this quote.
Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.Henry James
To me, this sentiment isn’t repetitive at all. It’s a reminder.
Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your family and friends. Be kind to complete strangers.
Especially strangers. Even the cranky ones on Facebook.
How do you deal with mean people online?