A Call for Decency on #Social Media

decency“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” – Said by mothers everywhere, to include Thumper’s mom in Bambi.

I remember, several years ago (okay, really, it’s been decades), my youngest brother and his pal were teasing a kid behind his back. My mom overhead the two, and asked my brother, “How do you feel, knowing you could be the reason someone is crying in their pillow tonight?”

How’s that for a “make-you-think” moment?

I am not sure when it happened, or why, but negativity and nastiness is thriving across the lines of social media, rearing its ugly head in comment sections; personal attacks are found under articles and blogs posted online, in tweets and on Facebook. Like a fungus given the perfect humid conditions, the rudeness keeps growing and festering, bringing itself to a new level – almost daily.

Here are two examples that happened within the past month or so. These are the condensed versions of the posts (links provided), but you’ll get the gist:

  • A public relations executive tweeted a snarky comment about race and catching AIDS on a trip to Africa.
  • A reporter tweeted about the tainted-water crisis in West Virginia, and how they can now work on incest.

Let’s see here: The public relations executive, a high-profiled professional in her field, dealing with social media daily, should have known better. The reporter, discussing a very serious, potentially deadly situation, should have known better. These people have a good number of followers. They are educated. Sadly, they are not alone.

Maybe they thought they were being witty. Maybe they wanted their comments to “go viral.” Maybe they believed that their words wouldn’t follow them.

Maybe they are completely wrong.

Sure, they tweeted out their obligatory apologies. But the damage was done. Once a person puts something out on social media, it is there to stay. It doesn’t matter if you delete your post or comment, there is a good bet that someone has taken a screen shot and propelled the nasty sentiments even further into cyberspace.

Apparently, getting behind a computer screen, a smart phone or some other device makes one bullet-proof? Yeah…no. Maybe that was true back when people disguised themselves under a different handle (and we know how well that worked for a White House staff member a few months ago). To further my point, go read an article on any news website, and you will find nasty comments about the subject of the article, and in many cases, against the other folks commenting.

What gets into people’s heads?

Our tweens and teens sit through hours of anti-bullying classes and seminars on the proper etiquette of social media. What’s the point, when professionals in high-powered careers – those who should know better – negate everything that is taught? What a great example they are setting… not.

I enjoy social media, when it is used properly. It is great to connect to family, friends and business associates who are literally around the world. But it gets tiresome to see the misuse, the nastiness, the passive-aggressive posts and the drama.

If a commenter or poster had to look a real, live person straight in the eye, would the improper, personal attacks and vicious posts and tweets ever get posted?

Please, think before you speak… and post, tweet or publish.

You just don’t know how it may come back to haunt you, and worse, how it could hurt someone else.

© Lynne Cobb – 2014

Have you noticed an uptick in the nastiness in social media? Let me know in the comment section. If you like this post, feel free to share it with others (links to share are listed below).


You can’t be my friend – ever, ever, ever!

Do you remember these quotable quotes?

“I don’t like you. You’re just mean.”

“I’m not gonna be your friend anymore, so THERE!” (said with tone, and then sticks tongue out.)

The sweet sounds of playground banter.  A broken Barbie. A foul erroneously called a strike. Not getting to wear the princess gown first. Someone stealing a Hot Wheel car… So many reasons to break up a friendship – at least for a day or two.

What I loved about that time, though, is that once hot tempers cooled, a wise parent, or, something even better – a wise friend who felt stuck in the middle – would remind us that we really didn’t want to end a friendship over such trivial matters. We patched things up, shook hands or pinky-promised never to hate each other again.

Oh sure, once we hit junior high/middle school, the hating started again. Sometimes it was trivial, and sometimes it was downright vicious. Sometimes friendships ended – for good.

Once in a blue moon, someone changed, and the friendship was re-kindled in high school or college. But one fact remains, especially for my age bracket: after graduation, we didn’t have a lot of contact with our classmates, sans the occasional reunion.

Until Facebook came along.

All of a sudden, people we didn’t even acknowledge in the halls or on the playground became our new online friends. And the passing of time was good – it healed wounds as we grew up. We could see everyone’s kids, commiserate over lost jobs and life’s curveballs. We felt like we had come home. We connected.

But then, polarization started. People started getting mean. Political, religious and social rants appeared, and some postings were not so nice. Apparently, folks didn’t like how their friends changed through the years. Snide comments began to appear – basically, if you don’t like someone’s views, they are wrong, or dumb, or hosting their own pity party, or whatever.

And then, you get un-friended.

Wow. Just like when we were little kids. Only this time, it’s worse, because we should be the wise ones. We should be leading by example.

But we don’t. We don’t enjoy a good, hearty debate. We don’t agree to disagree. We decided that a friend is not a friend it they don’t agree with us.

That is not such a great teaching moment for our kids, is it? We’re basically saying that if someone doesn’t agree with us that they have no worth. Lord, have mercy if that’s our message.

At this point in my life, I am pretty secure with me. My personal journey got me here, shaping and molding my values, my beliefs, my views.  So, if you don’t like what I say or what I believe in, then un-friend me. I honestly don’t care. But quit making blanket statements about people in general. Don’t lump me into a group and call me stupid. And don’t insult me or call me foolish or feel that I am less intelligent than you. Because I am not.

I am just different from you.

And if you don’t like it, then just take your stupid toys and your arrogantly superior attitude and go home.

Because  I have other friends who love me for me, who don’t care what I believe, because they know it is all part of the yarn that knits me together – making me, me.

So THERE! (said with tone, and then sticks tongue out.)