I was heartbroken this weekend when one of the dog rescue groups I work with through Shiba Prom posted that they were suspending operations for a few months. The post explained that the volunteers for the non-profit rescue group were getting badly beaten up on social media and in email, making it hard for the group to retain their volunteers. They needed some time off.
The very same weekend someone very close to me spent spent hours combating internal libel and assaults within a not-for-profit fraternal organization. Monday I received a note from an individual telling me about being verbally abused while attempting to save a dog from a kill shelter.
It isn’t just the non-profit world. I see it in sports, in politics, in media. It is in the way a woman snaps at the checkout person at the grocery and in the way a man angrily honks his car horn when a person hesitates too long at a stop sign. It is in the way we see kids bullying each other and showing no remorse when it results in death. In her Ted talk, comedian Maysoon Zayid, who has cerebral palsy, notes that if she was growing up today her palsy might have been more of an issue due to the excessive meanness on social media.
Today I spent lunch with a good friend and our conversation turned to how, on the weekend of “America’s birthday”, we both were shocked at the inundation of negativity and hate in our circles and world. We observed how American culture seems so hate filled and so very “us versus them” to a point of being extreme.
There is an old Internet saying: Don’t feed the trolls. It is a truism that was pertinent in the dawn of the bulletin boards and message forums and feels even more needed now – and not just in Internet culture. Don’t give in to the rage, don’t give in to hate. Do Not Feed the Trolls. When you lash out in anger, when you spew hate at another, you may feel better for a few seconds but the backlash on your own emotions will be deep. There are studies that prove when a person smiles, their mood improves – and it is contagious to those around you. Likewise, when you give in to hate, when you spew venom into the world – not only does it hurt you, but it spreads more hate and rage into the your world.
So for all of us, post a positive comment on Facebook. Retweet some positive messages. Add an appreciative comment on a blog. And smile at the checkout person.
Be Kind, Be Human
PS – I do try to live by this but if you catch me on a grouchy day – please be kind. It may help me!
PPS – About an hour after writing this, I saw this awesome article come through on Twitter: How your Happiness makes your friends happy too.