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Monday, September 26, 2011

If you don't have anything nice to say...

What is it about the internet that makes people forget common courtesy? That makes them say things I can never in a million years imagine them saying in a face to face situation?

I've been noticing more and more lately on facebook among other places, that people seem to have forgotten what it means to be polite. Or their mother never taught them "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

I love facebook for the ability to have a discussion with other people right now instead of waiting for an opportunity to be in the same room with other adults (not going to happen any time soon!), but it's really starting to bother me that facebook doesn't seem to follow the same rules for politeness as the real world does.

I think sometimes with social media, we give ourselves a false sense of security, that our "homepage" is our little home and we can play by our own rules. What we forget though is that on facebook, we're never home alone with just our family, we have perpetual house guests in every person we are friends with. They see what we say, what we do, and have the ability to comment and join in the conversation even though we are not face to face.

Maybe I just grew up in a sheltered environment, maybe it was just that my parents were awesome (and they are) and taught me to treat other people with respect when speaking to them, but I can't help but think that it's not just me. I refuse to believe that people treat others with such blatant disrespect when face to face.

Can you imagine a situation where you walked up to someone you don't know (think having a conversation on a friends wall with their friends) and called them a pig? This is a stranger, someone you have never met. And that "piglike" behavior they are displaying? Feeding their baby in a grocery store without a cover. I just can't fathom that happening in real life, and if it does, it makes me a little sad.

Or what about walking into a party with all of your friends and openly announcing that you think religion is stupid, or vaccines are killing your children, or if you homeschool your children will be socially awkward and their intellectual growth stunted? Knowing full well that you have religious, vaccinating, homeschooling friends at your party.

Yes, those are you opinions, and we are all entitled to them, but those are some bold statements to make knowing full well that those on opposing side are sitting right there.

I'm not saying hide who you are on facebook, we don't have to live in a world where we all believe the same things, but use some common courtesy. Not everyone thinks the way that you do, maybe try not to bring others down while building yourself up.

I'm guilty myself of venting, or getting upset about things I don't agree with (heck, that is what THIS post is about!). But I try to catch myself when I start to go into attack mode, and think "would I say this if they were sitting right here next to me?"

Have the discussion, talk about differences, I love a good debate. But the key word there is "debate" not attack. Have a little respect for others, even if they disagree with you. You don't have to agree with them, but as another human being I would hope you would at least respect them enough not to get into name calling or personal attacks.

As a Catholic woman and mother, I use Mary as my model. I fail daily at loving the way she loves, but that doesn't mean I don't keep trying.

"The mother of God teaches us to open ourselves to the action of God, to see others as he sees them - starting from the heart. And to look upon them with mercy, with love (and) with infinite tenderness, especially those who are most alone, despised and exploited," Pope Benedict XVI


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