When Did THIS Become OK?

Personally, I’m not a fan of social media. In fact, I have no social media footprint at all. It isn’t because I feel I’m too good to participate; it just doesn’t interest me. I’m not surprised, though, that so many like it and take part in it. To each his own.

There are some websites I really enjoy, such as Etiquette Hell  (check it out at http://www.etiquettehell.com/). It’s sort of a mix of Miss Manners and Dear Abby, focusing on what is or isn’t good manners at this point in our culture. It’s interesting, entertaining, and gives the reader some pretty good guidelines to manners in this day and age.

There are always readers who respond to this or that story, and it’s interesting to see what people have to say about the different stories. Sadly, there are also zillions of Internet trolls who love to post cruel or mean things in response to this or that person.

Here’s the sad outcome: when you hide behind a fictitious name and post something hurtful, accusatory or just plain mean, you get to be a troll with no real name. You can be as awful as you want to be with no apparent consequences. Oh, you can have an online war over it if you like, but it’s hurtful and cowardly—because you’re an anonymous troll.

If someone wants to make an accusation or snarky comment, they should have the guts to put their real name on it and take the heat. It’s bad enough when adults do it, but just imagine how devastating these trollish comments can be to young people who have a hard enough time trying to figure out who they are.

At that tender and vulnerable age, we often feel inadequate, awkward, uncool—plus all the worry and angst that comes with being that young. At that age, many have not found their own authentic selves or their own special “tribe” in which to belong. Hurtful comments are devastating at that age, and the effect can last for years.

It was bad enough in the ’60s when there was no social media, no cell phones, no Internet. Simple word of mouth was bad enough. The slightest adverse comment (spread through the school, naturally) could ruin a reputation in a day. Sadly, those kinds of allegations often stuck for years.

So, now that we have all this access to everyone and everything, look what’s happening. A person no longer needs to be accountable for their nasty and hurtful remarks, false accusations, and so on. Worst of all, pictures taken on a cell phone; say a shy and insecure girl in the gym shower, can be routed instantly to hundreds of cell phones.

We have already seen the devastation that this causes. Many young people have taken their own lives out of shame and hurt. When did this become OK? When did we lose our better angels? Most of all, what happened to the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated)?

I am not blaming social media per se, I am just stating that it appears to have dulled our consciences, minds and hearts in many ways. I wonder how many kids today have been told by their parents “how would you like it if someone said that to you or someone you loved?”

When did we let this become OK?