Use Your E-Manners by Annie Downs
How we behave online.
No, not teenagers. No, not kids. No, not men. Women. You [most of you] and me.
You see it. I see it too. Women who are unkind in their comments or tweets or blog posts. It is time for us to get serious about how we type and how we are using our words online towards each other. It gets nasty and mean and almost unbelievable at times.
So here are a few ways that we can mind our e-manners and make the internet a SAFE PLACE for women to interact.
You are allowed to disagree.
I am not going to say that speaking love online means agreeing with everything. It certainly doesn’t. I could list a lot of websites that have a lot of opinions I don’t agree with. Don’t fall into the trap that being a loving human means being everyone’s best friend or ignoring differences. Us Southern women chew on that cud all the time and it’s wrong. Disagree all you want- it doesn’t hurt other people when you disagree with them, what’s hurtful is what you say and how you say it.
The same rules apply if you are typing and if you are standing face to face.
I promise if you were standing face to face with the woman who’s blog you hate, you wouldn’t say the things that you are willing to type into her comment section. Sometimes I fear we have forgotten that the ones on the other side of the computer screen are human too. Be nice. Just be nice. Don’t be fake, don’t send up praise for a post you disagree with, but picture saying [or screaming?] your comment to the face of the one you are writing to. Nine times out of ten, you’ll edit yourself or delete your comment all together. SHE IS HUMAN TOO.
Kindness always wins.
I’d like to edit an old saying: If you can’t say something nice…. try harder. You can. You can absolutely find something nice to say to every person you read or interact with online. Choose to say those things. Choose to swallow down the ugly words you want to post and replace them with kindness. Remember that it is God’s kindness that brings people around- not rudeness in the name of truth.
Ask yourself why.
When you can’t resist saying the mean or harsh thing, when you hit send and immediately regret it, when you are raging mad and all you can think that will make you feel better is to SAY ALL THE THINGS, I’ve got to wonder why. So should you. Why does this matter so much to you? Why are you sure that slander is the solution? What hurts that is making you react like this? Are you sad? Jealous? Mad? Unhappy? What is it? Dig deep. Meanness on the internet isn’t the root, it’s the symptom of a deeper problem for which only you can seek healing.
Have a reality check.
What you are reading online is a SMALL portion of someone’s life- not their full life. Before you go and add your 2 cents to the topic that you are SURE she is wrong about, remember that this is not her whole life, you don’t know her hurts or her weaknesses, her history or her hobbies, you just know this post or tweet.
Celebrities have feelings too.
Someday when you want to worry about the state of our country, look at the comment section of your favorite celebrity’s most recent instagram. People are so mean- talking about weight and money and perception of who that person is- again, not the fullness of the person, but their public persona. Celebrities are humans who see, many times, what we say about them. Make a choice to speak kindly about celebrities online. You never know what they [or their family or friends] may see from you.
NO MORE MEAN GIRL.
Don’t be her. Just quit. Your daughters are watching your online behavior and learning how they should act. If you are doing mean girl typing, they are seeing that and you are spreading that mentality into the next generation. It’s time to stop.
Be the different voice.
Do you know why more than 100,000 people have read a blog post about Miley Cyrus? Not because the content was riveting or life-changing, but because people EXPECTED Christians to respond one way, and you and I chose a different way. If we are to be the aroma of Christ, a city on a hill, salt and light, we have to sound and look different than the rest of the internet.
SPEAK LOVE NOW
Please. Can we be a different voice? Can we be the women who speak life online and bring joy to others? Can we be the ones who build a safe place for women to feel accepted and loved on the world wide web? Can we defend the ones who are attacked and stand up for the ones without a voice? Can we accept and love and support instead of tear down and mock and hurt?
Be different. Just please be different.