Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sometimes To Be Kind...

Okay, so today is The Kindness Project. I joined up a couple of months ago, and you can find all the details and follow all of the amazing kindness in the links at the bottom of the post.


You know that old adage, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."? Yeah, that.

I think we need to follow that more. Sometimes it can be hard to find a kind word for someone that has hurt us, or that we perceive as undeserving of our kindness.

Because let's face it. Being kind is hard. Keeping your mouth shut is hard. Human nature tells us to argue, to make sure our point gets across. But it doesn't mean it's always the right thing to do. We all struggle with certain things, and the sooner we can identify those, the sooner we can start exhibiting kindness to those around us.

I think the Internet has made it easy to say something potentially hurtful. It's easier to vent about things and get validation. It's easier to trash talk about our husbands, our kids, our jobs, or our friends on twitter or Facebook where they won't see. (Read this if you don't believe me. Or search. CNN.com has tons of articles on Facebook, it's privacy settings, and how we should use and not use it.) Every post we put up is to get validation from those we call "friends," especially the venting or negative posts.

I don't think that's kindness. I think choosing to be positive in what you post online is an act of kindness. I think saying kind things and congratulating others--even when it's hard--shows kindness. That's what I've always tried to do, and when it's hard, I stay offline. Because sometimes to be kind, you have to follow the whole "don't say anything" bit.

Do you think social media has made it easier to be unkind?

Follow all the Kindness action here:


Today, you'll also find me at Book Flame AND you can enter to win a copy of SURRENDER! Go check it out.

37 comments:

Sarah said...

Thanks to the online disinhibition effect, it is absolutely easier to be outrageously cruel on the internet, and we see it all the time. The more people who commit to civility, maturity, and kindness in their social media interactions, the better! Not always easy, but each little bit helps.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm ALWAYS having to remind my kids of this saying.

It's more fun being positive, and it takes less energy. It drives me nuts when I see negative comments in social media. Fortunately most posts I visit don't have that problem.

Mary said...

Trolls abound on the internet, sewing seeds of unkindness everywhere. Darned trolls. And, because it can be very anonymous, it's much easier to say things you'd never say IRL. Personally, I do my best out of frays (which seem to pop up all the time--as soon as one dies down, another appears). I firmly believe in social media karma!

Kelly Hashway said...

Actually, I think because the internet is so far-reaching and permanent, it should make people nicer. Whatever you say is searchable, even after you delete it.

Rebecca Taylor said...

I think it is way too easy to fire off an unkind or snarky remark, especially on Twitter for some reason, in the heat of the moment. But I also see people who do this (sometimes) getting called out on it, in a VERY public way. Hopefully we are all, slowly, getting to the point where we realize we need to behave on the internet the same as we would in any public arena. Politely and with respect.

Liesel K Hill said...

Agreed! Internet makes it much easier to be negative and snarky. The thing is, I get way more 'likes' and comments on my positive comments and cool, inspirational sayings than I do on any kind of rant or vent that I post. I think people appreciate the positivity more than the negativity, but most people don't seem to realize that they have to put out what they want to get out. Great post, Elana. This is something everyone needs to be reminded about from time to time! :D

Julie Dao said...

I'm a big believer in getting back what we put into the world. If we're negative, our lives will be negative. I try to stay as sunny and positive as possible. Life's too short to sulk and snark!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Yes, I'd agree that social media has made it all too easy for people to vent and throw their unkindess around.

I wrote this quote in my post today: "If you don't have anything nice to say, then shut your pie hole."

~ Wendy

Teresa Coltrin@Journaling Woman said...

A big YES to your question. I didn't know until recently that there are blogs that bash others.

Teresa

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I think there has been a balance in some ways. Being online also allows for a greater kindness on a wider scale than was possible before. Sure, there are lots of people who just shoot off their mouths, but after a time or two, people stop listening. I also have a strict policy not to give any credibility to anonymity. If someone can't put their name with their opinion, I just don't have the time for them.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

It seems to me that the Internet is a bit like sitting behind the wheel of your car. You feel more anonymous, so when someone does something on the road that ticks you off, you feel less inhibited and road rage can set in. But there's still a person driving that other car, you know? Just as there are still real people behind every computer reading everything you put up. This is an important post, and one I wish more people would talk about. I wonder sometimes how many trolls on the Internet would actually say/do in real life some of the things they say/do online. How many would stand before an audience in person and recite the things they're posting? Essentially, that's exactly what they're doing.

Michele Shaw said...

Oh, wow, so true. I don't want to think about how many friendships/relationships have been ruined by internet postings that will never go away. EVER. People lose sight of that as they hide behind their keyboards. I'd even say they completely forget what they are saying hurts REAL people. It isn't a fantasy world just because it's feels like it's floating "out there."

LTM said...

Fantastic reminder, Elana! And it's funny because I've reached the point of teaching this adage w/my own daughters. It's so important, though.

Why, just yesterday, I was all set to send an email expressing just how hurt I'd been by someone with whom I'd worked. Then I hit "delete." Then I went for a long walk.

Guess what? Bridge unburned. :o) <3

Barbara Watson said...

Being unkind online leaves such a lasting legacy for a person. I don't get it. Atticus Finch, my favorite fictitious dad EVER, talks about walking around in someone else's skin. If we do that, I think we'd keep our mouths closed much more often.

Lola Sharp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lola Sharp said...

Just this: <3

Alice said...

Great post. I do think the internet has made it easier to be unkind. People are more likely to say things online they might not say in person. It takes effort to say something nice especially when you don't feel like it and it's a good idea to try it.

Heather said...

I definitely think social media made it easier to be unkind, which is terribly sad. But on the other hand, it also made it easier for us to come together and support each other. In the end the choice is ours, and I chose kindness. :) Great post!

lizakane.me said...

It astounds me how negative updates and posts are so common. So much so, that I've unsubscribed from seeing people's updates on facebook (not that I'm there on any consistent basis anyway.)
I think that was my main motivator to ONLY say positive things both online and offline. I want to add value and beauty to the world, and being negative doesn't accomplish that goal.
Thanks for sharing!

Sara McClung said...

YES. Social media makes it easier to be unkind. I see it all. the. time. And I try not to judge because there have certainly been times when I've had to hold my hands behind my back not to say something mean or get involved in drama, but still--I try to put my best face forward at all times when it comes to social media. And, honestly, in all the other areas of my life. Practicing kindness will eventually make it a habit, or so I hope. :) (Though it's easier said than done!)

Patti said...

I think the internet definitely makes it easier. It's easy to write something in a moment of anger instead of thinking about it for a while.

Matthew MacNish said...

I think we're all guilty of this. I try to be positive on the internet, but it's hard.

Krispy said...

It's absolutely easier to be a jerk online! People forget that there are PEOPLE on the other side of an avatar or a screen name. Good thoughts and a reminder about how we should strive to be kinder online.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sadly, yes. I've only encountered a couple people like that (not on Facebook) but they often make up for lack of numbers with their words.

Jemi Fraser said...

I don't understand meanness. I understand we all have our moments and that we goof up once in a while, but people who are just plain mean are beyond my comprehension. Kindness is one of THE most important trait a human can have. Thanks so much for always spreading it :)

Lindsay said...

So true! I've been lucky (so far) that I haven't come across any real meanness in social media. I've heard rumblings of it when it happens, but I try to stay away from it and be as positive as possible. :)

Heather Kelly said...

Just as the opportunities for meanness and for sticking one's foot in the mouth have risen dramatically with the rush to social media, I feel like I have also seen huge opportunities for kindness (like what you all are doing with this blogging venture) and for rising above.

I saw someone call something Nathan Bransford said in a blog post as "ignorant," and Nathan commented back in a very respectful manner. I'm sure he reacted in a different way in private. But he was publicly respectful and diplomatic. In response, the person apologized. And said they had learned something about how they would act online in the future.

By being so respectful, Nathan had highlighted just how out-of-line the person acted.

We can all take heed to think before we type anything into the social media world.

Hi, Elana! Hope your summer is going great!!

Peggy Eddleman said...

I do think it's easier to be unkind. BUT, I also think it's also made it easier to be kind! I am about a billion times more likely to tell an author that I loved their book in an email/tweet/fb message than I would be via snail mail. It makes it easier to be nice to the people we actually know but don't see very often, too. It's all in how you use it. And how you use it tells a lot about the kind of person you are.

Christa Desir said...

My friend Matt is a huge proponent of social media, but he says that he will never put anything negative out into the world bc that's not what he wants to be about. This is a beautiful reminder of that, Elana.

Angela Brown said...

The internet, in general, has made it incredibly easy to be the meanest we can be. The anonymity is like some mask that encourages horrible Yahoo comments, judgmental forum arguments and the ability to spew vitriol on a grand scale with other anonymous followers screaming the same messages in agreement and validation.

Rebecca said...

In general, I think an unkind person is an unkind person and they don't need anything to make it easier for them. It comes easily enough.

However, I do think that social networking sites, such as facebook, can be a tempting place for a person to vent or rant, not necessarily realizing that they are being big meanies. ;-)

For me personally, I believe that kindness is one of the fruits of the Spirit, so if I keep my eyes on my Savior, his kindness will naturally flow through me.

Sara B. Larson said...

I definitely agree, people just dash off posts/tweets/etc in the heat of the moment, and I read them and go O.O ... I know things about people's lives/marriages/etc that I never needed (or wanted) to know. But I also agree with Peggy, when used right, it can also be a way to spread kindness more easily than ever before, too.

elizabeth seckman said...

I tell my kids...the internet is like being at a party. Whatever you say there is being heard by all the people around you, not in a cone of silence.

Susanne Drazic said...

Great post. Yes, social media has made it easier for people to be unkind.

Claire Hennessy said...

My Mum always used to say "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" Good advice now as it's always been. I also employ WAIT (Why Am I Talking) LOL Great post, thanks.

Alina said...

This is so relevant and I couldn't agree more.

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