Sadly, this is not one of those days.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been stuffed full of enough misinformation, xenophobia and outright hatred to keep a KKK chapter in business until global warming-fed oceans begin to lap at the shores of downtown Boise, Idaho. The sheer volume and pervasiveness is, to be frank, shocking in what I thought was a benevolent and tolerant part of the world.
My heart aches at how quickly conversation - any conversation - degrades into a volatile mix of nastiness that makes you wish we could go back to the days when texting didn't exist and we still wrote letters on stationery.
So to help me cope, I've written a list of, um, suggestions that, if followed, might reduce the level of bile and nastiness. Wait, who am I kidding? Nothing will ever fix this. But I had to at least do something. Here goes:
- Everything you say on social media can and be used against you in a court of public opinion
- In the online world, there is no separation of personal and professional. Your employer can - and likely does - read your posts.
- So does your mother.
- So be smart.
- And if you can’t be smart, at least be nice.
- Social media is bidirectional. It isn’t a megaphone.
- Yelling louder - even virtually - won’t make you heard.
- So take the time to read and understand the work of others. Even if you disagree with them.
- Pieholes were never meant to be perpetually open.
- You may very well be the last person to clue into the fact that everyone thinks you’re a doofus.
- There is no delete button on the Internet.
- Likewise, the Internet has an elephantine memory.
- Never think anything you share online is in any way private. If you digitize it, then it’s fair game.
- Just because you believe you’re an expert on religious theology, political science and [enter virtually any field of thought/study here] doesn’t mean you actually are.
- Your contributions to the canon of human existence aren’t as profound as you might think.
- The planet’s 7-plus-billion citizens aren’t waiting breathlessly for you to weigh in on...well, anything.
- The world’s problems will not be solved by thumb-typing your latest round of genius while you’re waiting for the Subway guy to finish making your sandwich. Easy on the mayo, btw.
- Don’t think you’ll solve your own problems with a Facebook post or a tweet, either.
- Just because you post it doesn’t make you right.
- Profile pics taken in questionable light in your mother’s messy basement using a smudged webcam from a circa 2004 Dell laptop say more about you than you’ll ever really know.
- Know the difference between rational discourse and irrational crapitude.
- If your ears are burning by this point, you probably don’t.
- Not everything needs to be shared.
- Silence is acceptable and preferable more often than not.
- Every once in a while, before you hit the Publish or Send button, ask yourself if doing so will help or hinder those who ultimately consume it.