By Stephen C. Schultz
I am always amazed at the emotional energy some people demonstrate through social media. If you spend any time at all on some of the social media platforms, you realize very quickly that everyone is living a much happier life than your own...right? Not really! It may look that way, but you can be assured that every family, individual and member of society has there own demons to slay and burdens to bare.
The situation that started me thinking about this topic happened when I made a post to my Google Plus account. I saw a painting while in Bermuda that I found interesting. I took a picture of it with my phone and posted it. Almost immediately my phone made that unmistakable beep. I checked my phone and my post had been shared by someone who “Follows” me.
Below is the picture I posted from Bermuda and the message that she shared to her followers about my post.
“I GUESS HE GOT TIRED OF HIS USELESS POSTS OF KNOW IT ALL ABOUT HOW TO RAISE TEENAGERS AND NOW HE IS BACK TO SHOWING OFF HIS USELESS TRIPS TO BERMUDA!...IF HIM NOT BUSY WITH SUCH, HE WILL POST ABOUT HIS OWN CHILDHOOD!...I AM CERTAINLY GLAD HE WASN'T MY FATHER!!!!!”
My first reaction was, “Wow! There is some real heart felt emotion packed into that comment. I wonder why? She has no idea who I am or what my motivation is.”
Then I thought about what I posted in the past and wondered if there was anything I had written that might be perceived as offensive, inaccurate or hurtful. I honestly can’t think of a thing that would fall into any of those categories. My intent is to share information that is thoughtful and helpful to families who might be working through some struggles.
I have no expectation that anyone would even care about what I have to say, especially people from across the country and around the world! On occasion, there have been some members of my family and a few friends that have mentioned they enjoy reading my blog. If there are others from around the world that find my blog interesting...I’m honored to think they would stop by and read it.
This situation raises a question;
What is the best way to respond when faced with harsh words or criticism from someone on social media?
This is never an easy answer. Especially if the comments are hurtful in some way. Is it best to just ignore the comment? Should I try to engage with the person and “win them over”? Should I respond with harsh words of my own? Or, maybe I should write a blog article about the situation and use it as a way to help further a conversation about social media etiquette.
The important thing to remember is that I can only be responsible for my own words and thoughts. The way I choose to communicate with others is my choice, even if I am being provoked, denigrated or slandered in some way. Yes, the words might make me angry! Yes, I may want to lash out! Yes, the words may hurt me! However, the emotions I feel are mine, and mine alone. They are my emotions to work through. They are my emotions to feel.
Here are a couple of previous articles I’ve written that discuss in more detail the issues surrounding our emotions and the facts concerning healthy communication.
Social media platforms can be a source of community involvement and a force for good in this world. Social media can also be used to destroy relationships, bully others and allow some people a place to express ill will and hurtful rhetoric.
For me...social media is a place for kindness, caring and courage. What are your thoughts?