If you can’t be kind, be offline.

As a blogger I spend a lot of time in the internet, most specifically social media.
A lot of time is spent moving in the same virtual circles as other bloggers.

I’m aware that it’s a very curious world I frequent.
One where I’ve debated with strangers in 140 characters or less.
Where opportunities have been found.
A strange world where I’ve made ‘friends’ with people I’ve never met.

These are people I have happened across for a variety of reasons.
Some because we have a similar sense of humour.
Others because we have similar interests but most because we share a love of writing and put a lot of time and effort into getting our stuff out there.

The thing with the internet is that, in order to not go crazy, you must take someone at face value.
You must assume they are as decent as they would lead you to believe.

I’ve actually been really lucky in that some of the ‘friends’ I’ve met online, I’ve met in the real world and they are still that great people who I am pleased to call friends.
Alas, I’ve also encountered a fair few twats along the way.

There are those who are snide, they will tweet you and tell you how great you are whilst simultaneously messaging someone else to point out what an idiot you are.

Then there are those who thrive on calling people out, belittling and humiliating people.
They attempt to be constantly controversial and getting swept up in stuff (that frankly is none of their business) for clicks, likes and popularity.

“But Anna”
I hear you cry
“this goes on in all walks of life. It is not blogger specific”.

You are indeed right dear reader.
It does go on all over life BUT when you consider that my blog ‘niche’ is parenting and most of those loitering in my virtual circles are parents.
Well, it makes me a bit sad.

Some of us blog as a hobby, others of us blog as our job. We live in a hope that we can work from home and make enough money to look after our families.

At a time when we should be supporting one another as parents, patting each other on the back and celebrating each others achievements there seems to be more interest in dragging one another down and putting people in their place. Trying, essentially, to ruin the joy someone takes in writing or, indeed, their income.

When did this become OK? 

If we as ‘professional’ adults, with heads full of knowledge and common sense are hiding behind keyboards ‘telling it as it is’, ‘putting it out there’ and ‘setting people straight’, seemingly out of jealousy, what hope is there for our children?

WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

We are bringing up our children in a very different world to the one we grew up in.
A world where the internet rules.
It’s a world were people don’t bother letting facts get in the way of the chance to wield their virtual pitchforks and start baying at strangers because, well, everyone else is.

The internet is an astounding invention, a world of information is now at our fingertips yet it has resulted in a backward step for people socially.

People give in to peer pressure more than they would in real life, people congregate in mobs because they don’t want to feel the wrath of the next rant.
It’s very much like school, be friends with the bully so you’re not the bullied.

At least, when we were younger we were largely untouchable if we were within our own four walls.
Home was a safe place.
Generally speaking, no matter how awful things were at school or even work, it couldn’t get to you at home.
Now, the internet ensures that even in a safe home environment, kids can still be subject to other kids ‘telling it how it is’.

Last week I discovered, via the child of a friend, that there are even websites to
“help you in discovering your strengths and areas for improvement by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner”

Or in that particular situation…

Enable children to tell other children that everybody hates them and they should kill themselves.

Seriously.

We have all read about how things like this are going on more and more amongst children via social media.

We shake our heads in despair and ask why children think they have the right to be so cruel online.
Why do they think they can get away with hiding behind a keyboard saying mean things about others.
Bullying is bullying after all!

Then we quickly compose a tweet announcing how ridiculous that woman from that show is for calling her baby Zeus.
Obviously we tag her in the tweet so she knows our unwanted opinion, heck maybe we’ll start a hashtag too.

Whilst we might not be online issuing death threats to others, we are online #justsaying and making snide remarks. We are back stabbing and belittling others.
We are occasionally being bloody awful.
Then we question why children are treating one another in exactly that same way online.

If we display this behaviour online, we can’t be surprised when our Little Angel starts rallying the masses to pick on Jonas because he doesn’t like football or something.

We need to teach our children that just because we can’t see someone, it doesn’t mean our words won’t hurt them.
They need to know that creating a mob, spreading gossip and name calling can have an effect not only on the stranger you’ve decided you don’t like, but at times their family and friends too.

Ultimately we can’t expect our children to be decent online citizens if we don’t lead by example.

 

As an antidote to all of this, Erica from The Incidental Parent,  and I have set up a lovely Facebook group for all women from all walks of life to meet, chat, discuss and share experiences in a safe and non judgemental environment – run by women for women.

If you’d rather pick someone up than put them down, come and join us 🙂

 

 

Thanks for reading, I'd love to know what you think.

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