Social media: A time and place for common decency?

post-4A time and place for common decency
This morning I am in deep gratitude for the fact that the great majority of  social media comments and posts targeted my way are exceptionally decent. Not always happy or positive,of course. But that is not what this very social medium is for.

In the FaceBook groups I belong to, the posts and comments are something I look forward to reading. Mind you, I belong to groups with positive intent: one with a focus on daily gratitude, and others with professional or personal interests. Which is precisely why I joined them: They provide a forum to communicate my perspective, as well as feel the pulse of what’s on other people’s hearts and minds.

Today I read about the demise of Secret, a social media tool for people posting anonymously. After a few years up, it went down in flames because of It’s reputation for vitriol and hateful postings. The article mentioned cyber-bullying, and “flaming” (hurtful, vengeful posts), and how hurtful this can be, as well as devastating to a reputation. All this brought to mind one of the very few times a person used social media to “flame” me: ranting about me from a complete and utter misunderstanding.

One person rants, and I felt devastated for awhile…which completely shocked me. Then I realized: the rant stirred up memories of hate mail on my office doorstep, of churches “praying against me” (true story), of other times when just out and out nasty lies were said about me. I had to feel all of it…and then move on. There is no sense in stopping my work or my bringing my passion to the world, yet….

How many other people have been bullied into silence? Or despair? Or how many want to leave the planet, because the planet is just too painful for them? I have no numbers, but I know its too many.

As for me… Over the years, I fully admit to feeling compelled to hold back a bit, to stay safe, stay small. It was what I needed to do. And it is my right to hold back.

But so is my right to do what I do without fear of reprisal or slander or “flaming.” Rights that are compromised for sure, but we all can make a difference to increase the kindness on the ‘net.

If you’re angry at someone, consider: Where is this anger coming from? and What will be the result of a public shaming? Is it worth your angry words to be expressed…without going to the source and checking in with that person first?

Also: Yea, I get mad. So I sign petitions, and express my feelings and opinions…but I also try to do so with respect. Personal diatribes are not part of my social media package. Ever.

So put yourself out there (or here) boldly, my friends. and do so with style…and compassion and passion and humor, and most of all, love. We all benefit from having your presence here.



Elke Macartney

Leave a Comment