Sunday, January 27, 2013

Think before you Tweet.

This isn’t going to be your typical update on my adorable little boy, so if that is what you are looking for feel free to skip this post.

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

Most days I just revel in the fun of being a mom to an adorable baby, eating up his smiles, giggles, and snuggles.  Every once in a while, though, a situation arises that makes me realize what a huge responsibility my husband and I have taken on by bringing this little boy into the world.  It will be our responsibility to teach Caleb literally everything he needs to know to interact successfully with the world, from tying his shoes, to proper hygiene, to polite table manners.  Fortunately for him and us he will learn a little bit at time and we will learn how to teach him a little bit at a time.

I would be lying if I said this world doesn’t scare me sometimes and there are issues and situations my little guy will face that weren’t a big a problem when I was a kid. 

One that has been rattling around my brain for the past week or so is bullying, and not the “Your ugly and your mother dresses you funny” kind of bullying.  Trust me I don’t have on a pair of rose-colored glasses when it comes to bullying and maintain that it never happened to me.  I am sure I was mean to other children when I was young, and I can remember being called names and crying at home from time to time.  There is a difference between then and now, when I was young I could run home, stay inside at recess, or hang around the teacher on the playground and thereby get away from the mean kids.  It isn’t that easy in this increasingly digital age for children and adults to get away from the words of those who seek to tear them down.

I had a reaction to an acquaintances Facebook post this last week that surprised me.  This person had made a comment about a recent Esquire interview and photo spread done by Megan Fox.  In the article Megan Fox made the following comment concerning fame and bullying,

"I don't think people understand. They all think we should shut up and stop complaining because you live in a big house or you drive a Bentley. So your life must be so great. What people don't realize is that fame, whatever your worst experience in high school, when you were being bullied by those ten kids in high school, fame is that, but on a global scale, where you're being bullied by millions of people constantly." 

It wasn’t the quote that got to me it was the extremely derogatory comments by this individual and their friends, concerning the type of person Ms. Fox must be.  This seemed to me to essentially underscore the validity of her words. Now I don’t know much about Megan Fox, and I am not trying to defend her, her words or her actions.  But the situation gave me pause. When I made the following comment on this Facebook thread, I was essentially told she is in the public eye therefore she is fair game.

"Regardless of what you may think of her as a person or actress. Regardless of how silly her statements about the perils of being a sex symbol seem when paired with the photos in the article. Your comments just validated her point on bullying. How would you feel if your sister or daughter were the target of such comments by someone who didn't know her personally? Just because it is the Internet and they are a celebrity doesn't excuse the comments. No matter how vapid or hypocritical the target may come across."

In this increasingly interconnected yet disconnected world this attitude of “Those who are in the public eye, can’t complain about what others say about them” really bothered and scared me.  We try to convince ourselves that what we say on Facebook, Twitter, etc. doesn’t matter. Yet when some kids back east post on Facebook that if they can get 1 million likes their parents will let them get a puppy and they accomplish that in less than a week, that undercuts the assumption that the things we say don’t and can’t get back to those we say them about. 

I am not writing this to say be nice to the poor picked on celebrities, I am writing this to say that you should never post, text, or tweet something you wouldn’t be willing to say to that person face to face.  So if it is okay to take personal shots at those who are famous where do we draw the line, if someone is only famous within your community, or within your school, or your church, is it still all right to be mean, after all they are a public figure shouldn’t they expect that.

“Hate people on an individual basis only - you must actually get to know someone at least slightly before you can properly hate him or her.”

The endpoint of this whole thought process is how am I going to teach my son to be nice when meanness, snarkiness, and bullying are used for entertainment in media.  Read any best and worst dressed article and the comments are truly cutting, written to be funny but definitely not intended to build up the subject of those comments.  Numerous movies use bullying to forward the plot, either to show how far the main character has come or to prove that those who are mean usually get their just desserts.  I hate those parts of movies and frequently fast forward through those sections.  It is an older movie but in Never Been Kissed they show a flashback in which the character Drew Barrymore plays is being humiliated in high school.  I know it is fiction, but it hurts me so I fast forward through it.  But for people who are being bullied, made fun of, or humiliated they don’t have that privilege of fast forwarding through that period of their lives, and in this digital age it can be everywhere.

Just think about your words are they intended to build up or tear down, because tearing someone down will never build you up.

Before you speak (post, text, tweet), Think!
T – is it True?
H – is it Helpful?
I – is it Inspiring?
N – is it Necessary?
K – is it Kind?

I am not saying that I am perfect in this regard, I am just trying each day to be a little better and maybe bring a little light and insight to my part of the world.


Cami Showley said...

I am going to follow your blog from now on! Not only for your great thoughts, but to follow your cute son and you. I loved these thoughts, and have been thinking the same thing. People have no accountability for their words.

Erica said...

LOVE the sweet potato queen! AMEN!