I’m often apalled by what people say to each other on Facebook. And the comments to online articles? Wow. My Aunt Bonnie would have washed my mouth out with soap!
So I ask myself: what’s up w/ folks who are sooo hateful? Are they like that in person? And of course, they’re (usually) not. Because according to at least one researcher, folks forget they’re basically thinking out loud.
It’s what my students and I used to call the ‘underwear’ effect.
Anyone in his or her underwear can put up a website, or comment online. You don’t have to know zip-all about the topic. You just need a computer and a power source, and you too can be a self-proclaimed expert.
And that’s the problem. We forget (myself included, here!) that we’re NOT experts. Heck, what I know about many many topics could be easily held in an eyedropper! But…that doesn’t mean I won’t have an opinion.
Opinions aren’t facts, although ideally they start w/ facts. But especially if they don’t — should they happen to begin in faith or wisdom traditions — then we really need to be respectful of each other. I try to remain calm when others disagree with me. As long as they don’t make it personal. Because if you try to bolster your opinion by accusing a disagreer of various behaviours (‘vilification’ was the most recent one, because a friend said she didn’t support Paul Ryan’s budget), you are NOT a nice person. And not only will I know that, I”ll probably also decide your position is highly questionable. Unless you’re pretty lucky, and I happen to already know something about it.
So here’s a thought: let’s pretend that all online forums are F2F (face-to-face, for those of us who retain our non-digital passports). Let’s treat each other w/ the respect & courtesy we’d offer a traveler on the bus, or in the airplane seat next to us. Life is hard enough — why not be kind w/ one another? Even if the person YELLING is an utter idiot (and I use the term advisedly), doesn’t s/he deserve kindness? Don’t we all?
Who knows? You might even get your point across…